Matter launches Version 2.0—update to the read-it-later app

I tried Matter but ended up going back to Instapaper. I’ll give 2.0 a try—why not?

A couple of interesting features:

  • They’re focusing on read-it-later not discovery. I like this. I do not need more interesting media to follow—I already have far more items in my read/watch/listen later queues than I will ever catch up with.
  • If I’m reading this right they may be looking at some way to prioritize read-later items. That would be very useful as an alternative to most-recent first–because for me it’s easy for important articles to get pushed down the list and lost. But it sounds extremely difficult to implement. Maybe impossible. So I’m not getting my hopes up.
  • They’re working on an RSS reader too.

Neat!

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Looking good, but where’s the catch?
It’s not a subscription and no IAP??

Venture capital baby!

Grow fast, try to figure out how to make money later before you run out of money.

Their ripping out the social features in 2.0 makes me sad – not because I liked or used the social features, but because it was critically important that Matter get them right. When they took VC money, they took it with the understanding that they would be a Big Business :tm:

Now, without social features, they’re suck trying to justify a large funding round with “just” read-it-later functionality. And, as has been proven time and time again, read-it-later isn’t Big Business enough.

So… I fear this is a really, really bad sign for Matter. I wish they had figured out the social side so they could survive and I could benefit from probably the best read-it-later functionality, but alas.

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I’ve been interested in Instapaper and Pocket and all those apps since their launch, and there’s this part of me that thinks it was always obvious Matter wasn’t going to be a Big Business. It’s the same story — without asking its members to pay for its features, their value is basically 0, and since that was the longstanding price of Instapaper for its basic features as a Small Business, it’s hard to see how Big Business could ever compete.

I don’t know. I’m kind of sour on this whole category. I think Instapaper and RSS mostly solved this problem for me.

But I’ll add that I’ve never understood the attraction to Matter. It looked like Instapaper with a bit of Medium mixed with a little bit of Goodreads, and almost nothing beyond the Instapaper part does it for me.

To be honest, what makes Matter the best read-it-later experience for me is the actual core, the most fundamental piece: their document parsing.

That’s literally all I need it for. Sure, it does a couple other things better than Instapaper; their UI is much more modern and beautiful, for example.

But the document parsing! I’m pulling a number out of thin air, but I see 95% less errors in the stripped text in Matter than I do in Instapaper. Matter is near flawless at extracting article text – with formatting proper – and images from articles.

Finally, Matter does an infinitely better job at dealing with paid sites. I don’t know how this works behind the scenes, but if my browser can see the text, Matter extracts it perfectly, whereas previous gen RIL services almost always just extracted an article summary at best from paywalled content.

Luckily, I’m not too worried about Matter going away. Readwise’s beta Reader product does an even better job at parsing, with a slightly worse UI that’s getting better all the time. They haven’t fallen in to the VC trap and seem adamantly against it, so I’m happy to pay them for “just a RIL app”.

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Ah, I hadn’t seen this difference in my usage yet, but I believe it. This has long been a flaw for Instapaper. Makes sense, thanks for sharing your experience!

+1 on the content parsing. Matter really is way better than any other parsing engine / RiL service I’ve tried.

I’ve been following news of the Readwise beta since it was announced. How does it compare to Matter? What does it do better? What does it do worse?

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I would say that Readwise Reader has all of the same benefits - excellent parsing, excellent handling of paid content, excellent highlighting support - with a couple of downsides that are fairly subjective and a couple of philosophical differences.

First, downsides: the design, relative to Matter, is just not as good. It’s getting better, but along a path that doesn’t necessarily jive with me. I like aesthetic-beautiful apps, and they seem to be pursuing functional-beautiful. Those are probably the wrong words. It’s getting better, just not in the specific ways I’d like.

Another downside is that unlike Matter, they don’t have a Safari extension. I’ve switched to Brave solely for better Readwise support, but I’d move back to Safari in a heartbeat. They have a bookmarklet, but it is not good at paywalled content which is a lot of what I save. They say a Safari extension is coming.

As for philosophy: they have been anti-social from the start, which I like. They seem to care more about being an archive of everything you’ve read with robust full text search. They would love to be very keyboard-driven and have complex shortcuts to accomplish everything in the app. Like I mentioned above, they charge for their service, haven’t taken a bunch of funding, and are exceedingly available and helpful in their Discord, all of which bodes well for their longevity in my opinion.

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@thickweb you had me quitting Matter again, because after using it just during lunch, I saw why I quit it the first time, which is that it’s two clicks to save, and I’m never entirely certain the article actually, y’know, saved. And if the business isn’t even sustainable, or will depend on some shady privacy-stealing business model to survive, well, why hang around?

Then you had be going back to Matter because better article parsing is a big deal.

I’m on the Readwise beta waiting list … and have been forever. So I’m not expecting access anytime soon.

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Not NEVER certain, but sometimes uncertain. Often. And one of the sites that’s problematic with Matter is my hometown newspaper, so that’s significant for me personally.

Are you a paying Readwise user? I know they are prioritizing access for those users (read: only giving it to those users).

If you are, I may be able to get you in, they seem to respond well to existing beta user referrals.

I will say - I think they are being overly cautious with their release approach, but this isn’t them trying to create artificial scarcity. They genuinely believe it’s not ready and/or is changing too quickly for prime time.

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another benefit of using Matter is that it has an Obsidian plug in. I do not have to pay for Readwise subscription to sync the highlight to OB.

by the way, @MitchWagner , do we automatically get Matter v.2 or there is a beta waiting list, etc. I try to find out the version details on my iPhone app but could not find it

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I think we automatically get it.

@thickweb Thank you for the offer, but I am not a paying customer.

A question:
I have a huge,I mean really a huge, “list” of webpages I want to read later.
I have them as open Taps and also as bookmarks within Safari.
Is there an easy way, to get them into Matter?

I am a paid Readwise customer and would love to see the beta. They know me as lsievert@yahoo.com. Thank you for any help you can do.

What I love about MATTER:

  • general look (if not always the design) of the interface
  • excellent document parsing and layout
  • images(!) from the articles
  • writer subscriptions (though there HAS to be a better MUCH FASTER way to add writers to their sources list)
  • Obsidian plug-in
  • Safari extension
  • the incredible quality of the audio versions they create for the articles. Whatever they’re doing, it’s WAY better than anyone else is doing in this space. The articles are exceptionally listenable on Matter, in my opinion. I’m surprised that this wasn’t mentioned previously in this thread.
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big upgrades to Matter,

First, you can now take a note at the article-level.

The article-level note serves two main purposes:

  1. You can take a note when you save something to remind yourself why you want to read it.*
  2. You can take a note after you’ve read something to crystallize it and create a future reference.

Second, the full suite of note-taking functionality is now available on web!

This is a biggie. Not only can you take article-level notes, you can take notes on highlights as you read:

Third, we’ve made it easier to get notes out of Matter.

Matter isn’t a fully-featured note-taking tool (and doesn’t aspire to be). Its job is to help you take notes while you read and to smoothly transfer those notes to your primary notes app.

As before, you can sync your highlights & notes directly to Notion, Roam, Obsidian, or Readwise on an ongoing basis. Now, you can also export highlights & notes from individual articles on a 1-off basis.

You can also apply TFT syntax more easily with our redesigned text editor:

Finally, we’ve added some little touches to make highlights even better.

  • Taking a highlight is even faster: double-tap to highlight any sentence.
  • Taking a note is faster too: double-tap a highlight to take a note.
  • Highlight location metadata has been added to help orient you.
  • All drafts are saved by default. No more accidentally lost notes.

details in the tweet

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