Too Many Magazines, Too Little Time? There’s an App for That: Longform for iPad

The phrase TiVo guilt might strike a chord with some readers, but what about New Yorker Guilt? If you have stacks of magazines that you never find the time to read, or dropped subscriptions because you never read the magazine (and grew tired of being pestered to renew as soon as you subscribed), then Longform is for you.

To use a potentially dated print mag metaphor, Longform is a digital Utne Reader. Longform.org’s editors choose articles for the Longform feed. A reader can add additional subscriptions to a wide range of publications including the New Yorker, Esquire, Businessweek, and the Atlantic to customize her feed.

Longform is designed to work with Readability, a web service that transforms a web article’s interface to a less cluttered and more readable format. After signing in through the app’s settings, a user’s Readability reading list is updated automatically. Longform allows readers to toggle between the Web and Readability (Read) versions of an article from within the app, or set Read mode as a default.

The app’s clutter-free UI resembles both Readability and Longform’s websites. I was surprised to find that I could read on the iPad comfortably for longer periods when using the app’s Read mode.

Longform doesn’t include every story that ran in the New Yorker, for example. To get comprehensive access to each magazine, the reader still needs to subscribe. Longform is ideal for readers who are looking for affordable and convenient access to longform journalism, but aren’t concerned with being able to read their favorite publications cover to cover.

Longform serves up the articles that you’re not already reading. The app’s articles offer readers the possibility for discovering new ideas on a very wide range of topics.

I read an article on Muslim Speed Dating from Good and Freud: the Last Great Enlightenment Thinker from Prospect. After reading Confessions of an Adrian Mole Addict in the Guardian, I was reminded of a great book that I’d completely forgotten about. While browsing through the app I spotted short stories by Roberto Bolaño and Margaret Atwood.

All of the articles that appear in Longform are out there on the web, waiting to be read for free. It’s well-worth paying $4.99 to have a service that sends a range of them to me, since I know that I’d never seek out all of this information on my own.

The app is worth buying just for the Longform feed. The ability to add subscriptions from the Believer or the AV Club make it a bargain. The app’s feed is updated regularly, so new articles are being added all the time. Never again, dear reader, will you lack for something interesting to read.

Although the articles are accessible even if the reader is offline, when the user is online it is also possible to browse a website to which she has a subscription from within the app. This feature adds another way to discover even more readable material.

Readers can share articles via email, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.

Download Longform from the App Store for $4.99.

What I liked: I was completely engrossed while reading in Longform. I may never be bored again!

What I didn’t like: I can’t offer any criticism of this highly useful and well-designed app.

To buy or not to buy: Longform is perfect for curious, casual readers. It won’t replace a magazine subscription, but it gives iPad owners a simple way to read well-written articles.

  • App Name: Longform
  • Version Reviewed: 1.0
  • Category: News
  • Developer: Longform
  • Price: $4.99
  • Score:
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About Emily: Emily is a freelance writer who loves discovering new apps whenever she can pry the iPad away from her children or husband. You can contact her via Twitter: @whatwentwrite