Velocity — Speed Reader ($2.99) by Lickability, the creators of Quotebook, will make you discover a hidden talent for speed reading. Inspired by the webapp Spreeder, Velocity allows you to read at lightning-fast speeds while retaining just as much, if not more information than you would by reading normally.
How is this accomplished, you might ask? Velocity uses a technology called rapid serial visual representation. What this means is that words will be individually flashed in the middle of the screen at a rate faster than the voice inside your head can keep up with. At first, this feels awkward, as you have to shush that voice and simply send the words from your eyes to your brain. Once you get used to the concept, you’ll be reading at speeds of 400 words per minute or more. The voice inside your head can only go as fast as you can speak, which is usually about 200 words per minute, so this is a significant increase. You can read more about this concept over at Spreeder, or head to to view a quick demo.
Due to how this technique works, Velocity doesn’t have much of a visual interface. After all, the actual reading experience only consists of individual words flashing across a blank canvas. Of course, like any good app meant for reading text, there are light, dark, and sepia themes to choose from, as well as multiple fonts.
In the reading view, all you’ll see by default are words individually flashing by very quickly. Tapping anywhere on the screen will pause your reading, and allow you to adjust the speed, change the theme, or scroll horizontally through the text. When you’re done reading, the word count and time that it took to read the piece will be displayed, along with a share sheet. If you’d like to experiment, you can even go into Velocity’s settings and configure up to four words at a time to be shown on the screen.
Surprisingly, there are many ways to get text into Velocity. Instapaper subscribers and Pocket users can have the articles saved via those services pulled into the app, which is extremely useful for on the go reading. Text can also be saved via the app’s in-house browser, or if three or more sentences are on the system clipboard. Since Pocket happens to be my “read it later” service of choice, Velocity has actually replaced the official Pocket app on my iPhone, as it has all of the core features of the app. However, Velocity will only import the last 100 articles from each service, so that is something to keep in mind.
In all honesty, Velocity is one of my favorite apps of 2013. Not only has it allowed me to stay on top of my Pocket queue, but I’ve been able to absorb content much more quickly. After all, it typically allows me to read an entire article like this one in minute or two.
Velocity is optimized for iPhone, and is available in the App Store for $2.99.