A colleague at Lab49 just informed me of the existence of Rapid Serial Visual Presentation/RSVP speed reading apps. They’re amazing. Basically, the words of your reading selection are displayed in place one after another. With this interface, 300 words per minute seems slow to me and I can easily read news articles at 600 wpm.
These apps are available on web and mobile. On the web I’m using spreeder which has a website and chrome extension. Just highlight web page text, right click and choose so spreed it. Using the spreeder bookmarklet may be the best choice here since it has keyboard control for increasing and decreasing the speed while reading. Using the Shortcut Manager extension, you can make a shortcut for the bookmarklet and just highlight and hotkey.
For my Android phone there are a few apps: Rapid Read, fast reader, Speed Reader, Speed Reader Lite, Speed Reading HD. I haven’t decided which one I like best. They use copy/paste and open file to get text. Luckily on my phone, there is a select all button when copying. Unfortunately none of these can handle PDFs yet. So I’m converting all my PDFs to text with Free PDF to Text Converter in Windows and PDF Image & Text Extractor on my phone. The phone app actually fixed some errors the Windows app had with one file.
Fast reader is the best app for reading text files since it save your place and has a history of files read and shows the full text when you pause, the only app with this featur. Unfortunately, it tends to crash when switching back and forth and pasting text from web pages. No matter, the Rapid Read is quite capable with pasted text and its on screen controls are pleasing. Its scroller is decent for navigating shorter text.
These Android and Web apps are good, but not as great as they could be. The best features I’ve used so far are in the Spreed Web Reader which has keyboard controls for increasing and decreasing speed while you read and an option to slow down for big words. I’ve used Spreed a lot and its so much better than regular reading though the layout, options and hotkey choices could be improved. There’s an option to change speed while reading with +/- but it only works if your keyboard has a number pad. Also, the play/pause hotkey is p, but spacebar would be easier and more intuitive. A speed reading app should really consider hotkey speed and use keys that are close enough to work with one hand without moving.
The original app Rob pointed out is Spritz. It looks like it could be the best judging from the demo on their website. I feel like such a vaporware victim since its not available yet. Its coming on the Samsung Gear2 and S5, and I can’t wait for general release Android apps using their technology. Spritz has one thing none of the others have: “Optimal Recognition Point” or ORP. That explains the red letter in the middle and the vertical lines. Its pleasing and functional. And so far unavailable.