Short’s developers believe that you can put all that time you waste waiting in line to better use. When you’ve got a moment to spare, the app offers up articles that you can read in a couple of minutes or less.
Short for iPhone and iPad pulls in articles you’ve saved to Pocket, Instapaper, Readability and Readingpack, and tells you how long they’ll take to read. The focus is on speed, so you’ll only get a selection of pieces that take less than 10 minutes to finish, based on the average adult reading speed of 200 words per minute.
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You can choose to filter items based on whether you have five or 10 minutes. Tags tell you how long each article is, and a progress indicator at the top of the screen lets you know how far into an article you’ve got.
I’ve saved thousands of articles from the Web to my read-later list in Pocket and love flipping through content that I’ve carefully curated for myself — but getting through them all is an impossible task. Besides having created too long a list to conquer, the other issue I face is that I don’t know how long these articles will take. Short solves the latter problem, and effectively, the former too.
However, it isn’t perfect yet. The app could use an offline mode to store articles for when you don’t have a connection like Pocket’s app does. And, as the idea is to keep you engaged while you wait, it would be good to have some curated interest-based feeds alongside your own reading queue.
The latter is important because not all users save only short articles, or even ones that they’ll want to read when they’re not busy. My Pocket feed is full of tech stories that I bookmark while I’m at work, but most of them are too heavy for a quick read before hopping on a bus.
As an app, Short solves a small problem and does it well. As an idea, it has a lot more ground to cover, and that should pique the interest of the read-later services it leans on. There’s plenty of opportunity to fill those idle minutes throughout the day in mobile users’ lives, and such services could certainly capitalize on it by offering personalized content that’s easy to consume quickly.
Short is available for free from the App Store. The company says that it will introduce premium features, and an Android app in the near future.