Joking aside, there are a number of apps that actually do have a use beyond burning excess minutes during your workshif– I mean, while waiting for the bus, movie, or definitely something other than anything that relies upon your productivity.
For example, just last week I made use of the Mixlr app to tune into the first live show of At The Buzzer (iOS only, for some reason though). There is Flipboard, which gathers up news articles based on topics of your choice (I have one especially for aquaponics!). Sometimes you can even find one that will teach you a new skill: i.e. speed reading. Enter Acceleread.
A friend of mine came over for a bit of a game night and told me about an app he was using to enhance his reading speed. I have no idea what app he was using. I don’t even know if he ever told me. But, being intrigued, I hit up the App Store on my iPad to discover what was available. I read a few reviews, and eventually decided to go with Acceleread. Like a few that were available, you can get started on your training for free, but if you want access to intermediate or advanced training courses, you’re going to have to put in your ante chip. I happened to have a bit of my App Store gift cards left from the holidays, so I decided to go ahead and grab the pro upgrade.
The first thing you do is test your current reading speed. The app times you while you read, and determines your WPM rate once you hit the button indicating you’ve finished. Before you think that you can just scroll to the bottom and say you’re done, be sure to know that they do test your comprehension of the article. Besides, you downloaded the app to actually learn how to read faster; what’s the point if you’re not going to use it? Going to show off to your friends that you can trick the app into thinking you’re good at this? Congratulations! … I guess.
I tested at 226 wpm, which is apparently about average. There were a couple of times I regressed to an earlier part of the article to make sure I had the details right. What happened after the comprehension test was full of irony; I decided to read the “The Science” section to discover what the idea behind speed reading was. What this means is that I was subvocalizing every word of the section telling me what subvocalization was (the “speaking” of the word in your head as you read it), I regressed a few times to make sure I had all the details on regression down, and my eyes were extremely fixated on the word “fixation.”
The app describes all the habits of readers pretty well. After the test, you have the option of using the training tools, retaking the speed test, or taking a daily guided lesson. It seems like you can actually take more than one guided lesson a day, but I haven’t yet. I’ve been all about the training tools. The first tool flashes a few words in the center of the screen and tries to train you to take in all the words at once. Another tool (my favorite, actually, due to its similarity to normal reading) divides whatever you’re reading into similar segments and displays them in columns, and progressively highlighting them to make sure you keep up with your designated pace.
Time will tell if the exercises do indeed work and I become a speed reader. It has been 3 days since I first started using the app and I do feel as if I’m reading a lot quicker, maybe even twice as fast. In 30 days, I plan on making another post to show off my results, so look forward to that.