Thursday, September 28, 2023

Upnext is a fun read later app that also works with videos and podcasts

Must read

Shreya Christina
Shreya has been with for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider team, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

Next one is a read later app. No, it’s a bookmark app. No, it’s a content curation social network thing. Even Jeroen Seghers, one of the co-founders of the service, struggles to explain. “Longer term,” he says, “I like to think about what we’re building as a knowledge browser.” But even he admits that doesn’t mean much to anyone right now. In the end, Upnext chose “A Reader with Superpowers”, which is close enough.

Whatever you call it, this is what Upnext is: it’s a place to store and interact with content from all over the web. It covers articles and blog posts like Bag or instagram paper but also serves as a dumping ground for all those YouTube videos you want to watch later, the podcast episodes you’ll end up listening to, the tweet threads you don’t have time for yet, all those PDFs cluttering your desktop, and more.

My favorite thing about the app is that instead of storing all those things in a reverse chronological list, it acts like a Google TV interface for web content, a tool that takes all your links and tries to give you the right back. thing at the right time. Upnext’s home screen shows you a few categories, a series of curated daily choices of the things you’ve saved, and then some of the things you’ve added most recently. There’s also a Review page that asks you to work your way through your Tinder list to keep it clean – swipe right to keep it, swipe left to archive.

The app has been in beta for over a year and I’ve been testing it occasionally for most of that time. Now it’s launching publicly on iPhone, iPad, and the web — Android is coming eventually, Seghers says, but not anytime soon. The app costs $10 a month or $69 a year, which is very high for this kind of app (Pocket and Instapaper both have very good free tiers), but Seghers thinks Upnext can build something worth the price for the super consumers of internet content. He didn’t rule out a cheaper or free version eventually, but said starting expensive “will give us a clear signal about what the most demanding users want.”

Upnext works on iPhone and iPad, but no Android for now.
Image: Upnext / David Pierce

I’ve mostly used it as a simple replacement for Pocket (or Matter, another new read later app that I’ve enjoyed) as a simple reading aid. It takes most text articles well, including images and other media, and makes it quite easy to highlight text and annotate. When you annotate a video or podcast, they are automatically time-stamped so you can easily find them later. (Upnext doesn’t yet have an easy way to sync all your notes with your favorite note-taking app, unless you also pay for Reading wise(I’m told it’s coming soon.) The app doesn’t have as many customization options as some other apps – I’d love to find a way to widen the margins on the iPad, especially with Seghers saying is coming – but is still a pretty fun reading experience.

Ultimately, though, Upnext’s plan is to do a lot more with your content than give it a nicer font. When you save something in the app via the Upnext browser extension or iOS share sheet, Upnext tries to figure out what it is and automatically categorizes it for you. It works, doesn’t it? Upnext understands very well the difference between a long read and a short article and always puts YouTube links in the right place. But saving an article with an embedded video at the top will make you think you wanted the article. If you find a podcast episode on its web page instead of in a podcast player, it will be saved as a Short Read and not as a Long Listen.

You also can’t manually categorize your content, which is annoying. (I still have many podcasts in my Short Reads folder.) Instead, Upnext wants you to create playlists of content. Personally, I love this feature: I now keep an ongoing list of podcast episodes, articles, and videos on topics I’m trying to learn more about and can dive in when I have the time. (In that sense, Upnext is almost a supercharged bookmarking service.) You can also share playlists with others, including your own notes on various content, and Seghers says Upnext’s long-term dream is to bring a lot of social features to the app. bring.

Three screenshots of the Upnext app with different types of content.

Upnext tries to handle threads, podcasts, articles, videos and much more. It’s a tricky thing to get right.
Image: Next

Higher on the priority list: better understanding the content people put into Upnext. The app already saves your progress on all kinds of content, so you can pick up where you left off. But Seghers says the team spends a lot of time improving the automated categorization system, which would also help Upnext recommend content to users. “You can tell us, ‘I want to read, I want to listen or I want to watch,'” he says. “Then, if you can also tell us, ‘This is the topic I actually want to make some progress on,’ or ‘I’m just kind of in the mood for this,’ because our morning versus evening and weekday versus weekend, it is all very different.” He’s also excited about making Upnext a powerful search engine for all the stuff you store, but recognizes that it’s also hard work.

The dream of an app like this is that you spend your days just dumping things you’re interested in, and the app cleverly spits it back at you at just the right time. It’s not a chore or an inbox, but more like your curated version of the web. Upnext isn’t, but that’s pretty close to what Seghers says he’s trying to build. “You can just throw any link at it,” he says, “and it’s a continuously learning thing.”

Apps like Upnext — and Pocket, Instapaper, Matter, and the rest — have always been for a specific kind of content-heavy consumer. I am really such a consumer and have enjoyed using Upnext so far. It’s not a perfect system and for most people it’s probably not even worth $10 a month, but I’ve spent years looking for a good “I’ll get back to this later” app, and Upnext is surprisingly close to getting it right .

More articles

Latest article