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Abyss: Read Later review
There is a natural inclination to buy apps that are complete solutions, that can potentially do the work of other apps and which feel like good value purely on the number of features they have. This makes sense and like everything else in life we tend to look for functions and design, plus branding of course, when spending money. Here, however, we have an app that attempts to do one thing for a one-off low price and to do it well.
The ‘Read Later’ in the title gives you a clue as to what it is aiming to do, but that is not the whole story. The likes of Instapaper and Pocket aim to capture articles from the web and to present them in a format that is stripped down and much easier to read. They also allow you to organise them into folders and to effectively build a collection of reading material that you can enjoy either now or later on, and therein lies the main problem with these solutions.
I use Instapaper and have for many years because it has proved to be much more consistent than Pocket at capturing articles while maintaining the media and formatting held within. The reading experience is excellent and I have hundreds of articles stored to read later, and that is the problem. I rarely get around to reading them because they are stored in the app and on my iPhone, taking up a lot of space, and many of them are now out of date.
Abyss takes a different approach and one which potentially will encourage me to read more and in real time so that the articles I am taking in match the context of the moment in which they were created. In its simplest form it lets you find an article and save the link to it in a simple list within the app. You can then make the article a favourite if you believe you may need to refer to it in the future or you can archive the link once you have finished reading it.
That literally is the entire premise of this app and that is why it works so well. You can either use the share sheet to capture an article while in Safari or you can tap the ‘+’ icon in the app and paste a new link in. That’s it, no more and no less in one of the most simple app interfaces I have ever seen.
You may be thinking that this is not too beneficial when compared to fully fledged ‘Read Later’ solutions, but it actually offers more flexibility because of its middleman status. You can save links to stories in Apple News and magazine articles in Apple News+. You do not need to worry about any formatting issues because it will naturally take you to the original article with the intended formatting in place and you can then use Reader View if you want to gain the clarity of traditional Read Later solutions. You can incidentally import from Pocket into Abyss.
I have only used this app for two days and find myself share to it more than any other, and I am reading more already. It has all of a sudden made sense to use the tools held within iOS (Reader View, Safari etc etc) in conjunction with a simple app than to look for a complete end to end solution. I should add that there is an in-app browser as well.