App

Developer: Lickability
Price: $3/£3
Size: 17 MB
Version: 1.4.1
Platform: iPhone

Get Accelerator

With the internet at our fingertips and various other smartphone-related distractions to contend with, it can be tough to carve out the time necessary to absorb longer form content. One way in which you can do so is by training yourself to read faster.

As the developer of Accelerator: Speed Reader explains it, your internal voice serves to limit your reading potential. Essentially, the human tendency is to ‘read aloud’ in your head, despite the fact that your eyes and brain are capable of going much faster.

Tap the screen to pause and adjust the speed

The solution proposed by Accelerator (and lots of other speed-reading apps) is to forcefully wrench your eyes away from your inner voice. Which isn’t nearly as mystical a proposition as it sounds.

What it amounts to is taking all of the words from a web article or text document and firing them at you, one at a time, at an accelerated rate. While some rival apps might highlight the words in an open stretch of text, Accelerator isolates and centralizes the words so you’ve got no choice but to follow their trail.

There are also Dark and Sepia themes

You have the option to ramp the simultaneous word count up to four words if you so wish, but the onus is on flashing individual words into the center of a blank screen. That blank screen can fit one of three themes – Light, Dark or eye-saving Sepia – and five fonts, but the effect is largely the same.

It feels oddly claustrophobic at first, and you actually need to train your brain to read this way. Once you do, you’ll find that you’re able to ramp up the speed at which these words appear well beyond 300 words per minute – which is already 50% more than the average reading speed.

iCloud Drive compatibility is welcome, if a little flaky

Whether this will prove a pleasant reading experience is another matter, and we certainly wouldn’t want to consume a novel in such a way. You’ll probably want to be selective with the kind of content you choose, but at least Accelerator offers access to multiple sources.

You can import documents from your iCloud Drive, though we found that a large portion of those files were greyed out and inaccessible for some reason. On the positive side, it’s possible to link up your Pocket or Instapaper accounts to grab those articles you’ve saved for later.

You can pull in Pocket or Instapaper articles too

A recent update has added a Safari extension so that you can save web stories straight to the Accelerator app. This is a very welcome addition, but its execution is a little flaky.

It can take just shy of 20 seconds to save a normal BBC website news story to the app, during which time you’re forced to sit looking at a black ‘Saving’ screen. Given that the app is intended to save time, this part of the package needs considerable work.

The new Safari extension lets you save articles to the app

Still, if you find yourself with a mounting pile of short-to-medium form text content to wade through, Accelerator: Speed Reader could be the app to help you whittle it down. It requires a certain degree of patience and commitment to really get the most out of it, but the potential is clear to see.

Accelerator: Speed Reader - Free your eyes and the text will flow
An effective speed reading app with room for improvement
The Good
  • Clean presentation
  • Pocket and Instapaper compatibility
  • Save web pages straight to app
The Bad
  • Reading style takes some getting used to
  • Safari extension slow and clunky
  • Seemingly some iCloud Drive compatibility issues
3.5Overall Score