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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The New Reading Apps: Improve Speed, Comprehension and Enjoyment

[Blogger's note: Reading research in neuropsychology has often focused on learning disabilities (dyslexia, autism). But ordinary users can also benefit from its findings. It might be said that we all possess to at least a small degree, depending on our environment, mood or state of health, some learning challenges. The discoveries in the area of reading detailed here present three apps/app suites, and the end of the post talks about Amazon Kindle's approach to adding a version of one to the Kindle Reader. Be sure to browse all of these four sections. These apps are all the result of extensive reading research. See, for example, Burning the Page: The eBook Revolution and the Future of Reading Kindle Edition by Jason Merkoski, who was the Kindle Project Manager at Amazon and well as the web links below for information on the research conducted behind these apps.]

1. BeeLine Reader

This is the one that uses 3 colors of words to help your eyes follow the text. This helps improve speed and comprehension.
Works with PDFs. Has a free web plug-in. I have not tried the web plug-in yet. For a additional fee, will work with Kindle books. Works with Windows and iPad. May work with other tablets or phones as well. Can definitely use with your web browser under Windows. If you want it for iPad, it costs  $4.99 plus $7.99 additional to work with Kindle books. Free Kindle trial available on iPad.
They have a Windows add-on called Pasteboard: you paste anything into it (such as Word files or email) and it will do the color thing with that data as well.
See also for details about a Chrome extension (plug-in) for BeeLine Reader. A sample screen appears below. Improvements of up to 50% in speed/comprehension have been suggested.

2. ReadMe!

This is the one that has 2 different tools built into it. They are: (1) Spritz [show words in a box that moves at a speed you can select] and (2) BeeLine (similar to the one above).  The really useful tool here is the first option, Spritz. The link above has some videos that show what this software can do.
ReadMe! (Free) is an E-Pub reader with Spritz. With ReadMe! you can enjoy e-pub format books from Project Gutenberg (45,000 books), Manybooks (29,000 titles), Feedbooks, OpenLibrary (1M+ books) and the Internet Archive (2.5M+ titles). That should keep you busy for awhile!
Note: You cannot purchase titles from iBooks or Kindle and read them with ReadMe! – they both, unfortunately, use their own proprietary formats for books. Do us a favor and send them a suggestion to integrate Spritz into their apps on Twitter @ibooks and @amazonkindle.
The Spritz reader feature has its own web page:  By moving a box on the screen with the next work to read, you can control the speed of reading and run it a little faster each time to help you read faster. It takes some practice, but this is good idea. If you are able to improve reading + comprehension by 10%, that is 10% for everything you read. Not bad! And it might help you get through some materials that are kind of a drudgery to read. A viewing example is shown below.

3. Suite of three packages: Voice Dream, Voice Dream Writer and Voice Pack (extra voices)

This is the package that combines voice + reading. As far as I can tell, it is only on the iPad so fare, and there the 3 tools are around $20.00. This tool is based on research that shows if you read both with your eyes and ears at the same time, you can greatly improve your comprehension. 
From: (see below):

4. Amazon Word Runner

Note that Amazon has added to its new Kindles (possibly available on some older models as well) an option called Word Reader that provides features similar to an enhanced version of the Spritz reader described above (the send package covered). Details about it and an example of how it behaves can be found at: (+Video) (Word Runner is Amazon’s Solution to the Speed Reading Problem, and It Just May Work. September 18, 2015). Not yet available on all books, just certain ones. The specific availability for Kindles is Fire OS 5. 

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