Reading every day is one of best ways to learn new ideas, relax and improve your concentration.
Since I like to read digitally, I've been looking for an app with the best reading experience. And I think I might have found the one. It's called Matter.
It has a great reading mode with minimal distractions, you can highlight which is syncable with your note-taking app.
But my favourite part is its social aspect; you can follow your friends and writers you like and share your favourite articles and comments, which makes reading even more enjoyable.
There are many great reading apps. Some people use Pocket, others use Instapaper. And now Readwise recently announced they made a reading app. I'm really excited to try it because it looks great but it's still in beta and I'm still waiting for my invite!
In the meantime, let's talk about Matter which I think is the best reading app at this moment, especially for note-takers.
In a nutshell, Matter is a social reading app. So, it's not really just a reading app but also it's a place you can follow other people and read articles together, which is great because you can exchange your thoughts and discover what other people are reading.
First of all, let's have a look at the reading aspect.
Matter is currently only available for iPhone and iPad. Once you installed the app, you can install its browser extension from the mobile app menu. This extension is great for reading articles on your desktop because, with just one tap, you can turn on the distraction free reader view on any web page. So whenever I'm reading an article on the web, I always turn this on because it takes away all of the annoying ads and popups so you can focus on reading.
Now, if you want to save an article to read later, you can just click the extension button on the browser. Or you can use the share option from mobile.
Of course you can share articles, but also Youtube videos too if you like. But the best part is saving Twitter threads. Most people use Readwise to save tweets and twitter threads, which involves either replying to the tweet with "Readwise save thread" or sending a DM to Readwise.
But Matter makes this a little easier. What you have to do to save a thread is just share the first tweet to Matter. Then it will automatically compile the whole thing into a page. For me, this is one of the best features of this app.
You can also discover new articles from inside Matter. If you go to the Home tab, you see two sections – Discover and Inbox. Inbox is where it shows you new articles and essays from the writers you follow. If something looks interesting, you can swipe right to add to your queue. If not, swipe left.
Then there is Discover page. As far as I know, it shows you a list of popular articles recommended by the staff members at Matter. And you can see other people's comments on each article as well. I find this feature valuable since it helps discover more interesting materials.
Reading on Matter feels so nice too. The things you saved will be added to the Queue. The quick filters at the top is a little nice touch. Using this, you can find the articles you've been reading as well as the short ones which is perfect if you don't have much time.
If you like highlighting while reading like me, its highlighting experience is superb. It's super smooth, and you can link your Matter account to Readwise. That way, you can import your highlights into your note-taking app like Evernote, Notion, Roam, Obsidian and Logseq where you can make your own notes.
Having the text-to-speech feature is a big plus as well. Sometimes when I'm on the train or driving, I prefer to listen to the articles I saved rather than reading them. Also, you can control the speed which, for me is essential.
But there are many apps that have text-to-speech, but Matter lets you make audio highlights. If you've used Airr, which is a podcast app, you probably know how it works. Basically, while listening to an article, you can triple tap your AirPods to make highlights which I thought was really useful.
But if you don't have AirPods, you can just squeeze both volume buttons at the same time to make an audio highlight. This feature is one of the reasons why I love using Matter because now I can listen to articles and make highlights while cooking or commuting.
The reading aspect alone makes this app such a joy to use, but it also has social aspect, which I think is what makes it special.
Just like in any social media, you can follow other people like your friends and your favourite writers, and they can follow you too. When you follow someone, you can see what they are reading and their highlights and comments from the Activity tab. You can like it or reply to it to start a discussion.
Similarly, you can share your favourite articles to your friends too by hitting the plus button at the bottom, and it will appear on the Activity page of people who follow you.
Also, when you're reading an article that people you follow read, you can see their highlights and annotations. This is similar to what you see in Medium, but the difference is that, in Matter, you can do this on any article on the web, not just on articles on Medium. I think this feature is really interesting because you get to see what my friends and people I admire think of articles.
But of course, not everything has to be public. Sometimes, you want to keep what you read and your highlights private. In that case, there is an option to set your highlights to be private.
Now what do we do with the highlights we made? Well, if you want to share one on social media, you can make a super nice looking quoteshot, which can be customised to share to Twitter, Instagram or wherever you like.
But most of the times, I don't really share my highlights that much. I just sync them to my note-taking app and make some notes from them. If you use Readwise, this whole process is smooth and makes your personal knowledge management really easy.
Like I said, Matter is only available for iOS at the moment, and I think they will release Android version sometime in the future. If you have an iPhone or iPad, Matter is definitely worth a try. It's still free to use and has the potential to be part of your knowledge management system.
Try Matter: https://hq.getmatter.app