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I may not be a smart man, or a funny man, or a particularly good-looking man. (Okay, let's be honest. I'm all of those.) But one talent that I do possess is the ability to read rapidly, and retain nearly all of it. It has come in handy throughout my life, from standardized tests to late night cram sessions in law school, and even in the present-day gig as a blogger.
But why be good when you can be great? Plus, my editor beats me if I don't submit thirty-seven blogs per day. (A slight exaggeration.)
That's why I'm going to give these apps a try. And you should be interested too, for obvious reasons. Who needs to get through more professional reading in a day than a lawyer? Each of the following promises to increase your reading speed through semi-scientific methods. Some rapidly flicker text (from an e-book or website) a single word at a time, saving you from eyestrain and allowing you to read up to 600 words per minute. Another teaches you infomercial-esque techniques like "meta guiding."
Here are four choices, two for iOS, and two for Android:
ReadQuick for iOS ($3.99)
Well, I can't try them all. ReadQuick, which was recognized by Gizmodo as yesterday's App of the Day, will pull stories saved off of the internet, strip the ads, and display them, one word at a time, on your screen.
The principle is Rapid Serial Visual Presentation, a fancy term for presenting a series of words in the same spot so that your eyes don't have to move.
Speed Reader for Android (Free)
A similar, though not identical app to ReadQuick, Speed Reader (for Android) will also use RSVP to display the content of e-books, PDF files, plain text files, and other similar formats on your screen in the same rapid-fire way.
The app claims that the technique helps the reader to minimize subvocalization (the process where you "sound" out words in your head or mimic speech physically while reading) in order to increase one's reading speed.
Speed Reading Trainer for Android (Free)
If rapid-fire of single words is burning holes in your retinas, this app uses a different technique -- meta guiding -- and something called the Ivy Standard System, which is apparently some sort of marketing tagline.
Meta guiding, as far as we can tell from a quick Web search, involves using an object or one's finger to trace along the text or draw shapes around it. It sounds like a load of hooey, but we'll give it a shot.
Acceleread for iOS (Free for limited features, $8 for upgrade)
Another iOS-only app, it has over 500 ratings and 4.5 stars, is free for the basic version, and looks like it'd be worth trying if you are an iPhone or iPad user. Unfortunately, it doesn't throw any fake-sounding science terms at us in the app description, so we'll have to rely upon the high marks from users.
If you read through all of that in less than a minute, congratulations, you have no need for any of these apps. If you were a bit slower than 500 words per minute, join the quest for rapid reading and retention! Try these out and us know if they work with a quick tweet.