Scribd, a social reading site that allows users to bookmark and share online articles and other documents, launched a new iPhone app called Float, which could revolutionize the way we read content on our phones. It’s the first iPhone application that Scribd has ever released, reports Jason Kincaid from TechCrunch. Scribd has been described as the Youtube of documents, since users have the ability to upload many different types of documents for sharing. By getting rid of external ads, links and clutter, Float makes all articles easier to read, which helps compensate for the small smartphone screen. Readers can conveniently either swipe left to right to read articles like a book or magazine, or scroll up and down to read like a traditional website. The two options can be toggled on the fly. These attributes have made Float one of the first apps to be optimized specifically for reading on a smartphone. As Director of Product Matt Riley told Sarah Kessler from Mashable, “For the most part, browsers were built for computers and sort of retrofitted for cellphones, and they really haven’t provided a great reading experience so far.” Scribd plans on changing that.
Float has 150 publishing partners, which gives it a unique advantage. Each of its partners will offer its daily content for the float app so that users can read the articles in the smartphone-specific format. Readers have the ability to scroll through all of Float’s partners, tap on the ones that they want to read from and see all the articles that were published that day. These include notable names like Time and The Atlantic, so readers will be seeing reputable sources. Float takes all advertisements off of these pages, making for a pleasurable reading experience. It also borrowed a concept from Instapaper that allows for adding a bookmarklet to an article. This lets users send articles they find online into a separate account for later reading. With its vast array of partners and smart features for easy reading, Float’s a worthy spot for reading.
Float’s other big attribute is its ease in sharing articles on social networks. Along with linking to a Scribd account, Float connects to Facebook and Twitter accounts as part of its Social Feeds. This lets users read any articles that the people they follow on Facebook or Twitter post. For articles posted that are among the 150 partners, the entire pieces are shown. For articles outside of the partners, excerpts are given. The layout of the app lets users share pieces easily, with only a single tap of a button. This makes for easier social communication than has been offered by any other app used for reading.
The future of Float and Scribd could be a profitable one. While Float is only relying on contracts with publishers currently for income, that could soon change. Float is considering offering premium content that would only be available with a subscription, and having ads is an option as well. Scribd also has a plan to make Float like a Netflix for a reading audience. For a fee, readers would be able to ‘stream’ different publications that are usually paid for. The company would need cooperation from publishers, but it’s in the process of being worked out.
Scribd is offering something that is unique to the current marketplace. To be able to offer an optimized reading experience for articles that are going up on the Internet in real time is exciting. To do it for free is an even bigger deal, especially without ads to support it. With its innovative ideas in publishing and sharing, this app could become a quick hit. With so many quality articles to read on the Internet, it’ll be enjoyable to Float between them.