Reading is a great way to learn and develop new skills, but sometimes it can be hard to stay motivated and make reading a daily habit. Luckily, there are plenty of reading apps out there that can help you build better learning habits. In this blog post, we'll be reviewing the top 7 reading apps that can help you stay motivated, organize your notes and highlights, and even connect with other readers. Whether you're an audiobook lover or prefer to read articles to build up your knowledge, there's an app on this list for everyone.
Let's dive in and explore the best reading apps for building better learning habits!
Apple Books has the largest selection of audio and downloadable books in the world - we wouldn’t expect any less from Apple themselves! If you’re looking for the latest books though, you may need to wait a little while, or pay a higher price.
Apple offers some interesting and motivational prompts, such as showing you daily streaks and minutes read. However, the notifications are often difficult to catch and very subtle, and they only trigger when you have the app open. If you put your iPad down for a few days, don’t expect it to remind you to get back on track.
The app also gives you access to highlight interesting passages and sections, but you can’t actually do anything with them beyond that. There is no way to look back at highlights, unless you are open to swiping through the entire book to try and find them.
Large selection of downloadable and audio books
Shows you streaks and minutes read
Notifications only trigger as long as you are engaged with the app, it won’t go out of its way to bring you back.
You can’t do much with highlights.
No social discussions, only reviews.
If you are looking to keep motivated to learn and at the same time prioritise your learning, Mindstone is the app for you. Load articles, PDFs, Youtube videos and even podcasts - and based on your own personal goals the app will recommend what to tackle next.
Mindstone allows you to save all of your notes and highlights organized, revisit them whenever you want a review, and discuss insights with others - all in one ecosystem. This is also the only app on the list that works with AI, auto-tagging all your content so you don’t have to feel overwhelmed doing so, as well as giving you the ability to ask questions about reading material so you can dive deeper into topics.
Load all type of online content, including articles, PDFs, images, podcasts and videos
Set your own personal learning goals
Notes and highlights can be shared with others
Lets you build a learning habit over time
Does not currently support books from Apple, Kindle or Google Play books
Ok, so unpopular opinion for some - but Audible still counts as reading for many, so we chose to include it. Audible has managed to revolutionise how people consume books, so we have to give credit where credit is due.
Audible is fantastic if you’re on the go, whether it’s doing some cleaning, going for a walk, or on your morning commute. But will it really be able to help you develop a learning habit? Well, that depends.
We can’t argue that it isn’t easy to use and fairly convenient, but Audible is far from being a learning app. Yes, you can listen to books, but you can’t really highlight or take notes. The app does allow you to save 30 second clips (which you can save as excerpts), but these cannot be exported anywhere, limiting your learning ability. This means you may be running the risk of not retaining any information in the long run.
Thousands of books available
No highlighting or note taking (other than saving excerpts)
You run the risk of not retaining information long-term
Monthly subscription can be expensive
Blinkist describes itself as “perfect for curious people who love to learn, busy people who don’t have time to read, and even people who aren’t into reading.” While the premise sounds good, the reality is far from it.
Reading should add value to your life. If all you’re doing is getting a brief summary, are you really learning anything? Summaries are great as a brief insight, but you really do need the context of the entire text in order to reflect and grow.
The team as Blinkist has also recently released “shortcasts” - like podcasts, but shorter. Again, missing the point that podcasts are meant to engage people, not just provide a 5 minute audio summary.
If you’re looking to build a learning habit, the best you’ll get out of Blinkist is a summary of what you might be able to tackle next, but you should be aware that those summaries are often not objective and tend to not be accurate.
Summarizes fIction books into bite sized summaries
Offers audio summaries for some texts
Limited selection of books available
Pricey subscription model
Doesn't provide in-depth analysis or context
Goodreads is one of the most well-known reading communities in the world. With a database of millions of books, you can keep track of your progress and join communities to discuss insights - or at least, that’s how they sell it.
Beyond basic interactions such as friend requests and liking comments, the site doesn’t offer much in the way of community. It’s great for reviews and discovery of new books, but fails beyond that (I once tried joining Emma Watson’s reading club, and it was nothing but endless, spammy messages.)
While you can set an annual reading goal, you can’t do much beyond keeping track of progress and notify others when you’re done with a book. It has nothing in the way of motivation or habit building - if you don’t motivate yourself, the app certainly won’t do it for you.
Large community of avid readers
Personalized recommendations based on reading history
Ability to track reading progress and set reading goals.
Limited customization options
Lack of social interaction beyond basic friend requests
Does not motivate you to keep learning
Google Play books
Google Play books is back with a new redesign, making it easier to navigate and find your favorite books. Supporting both audible and reading versions, it’s a great alternative for those that don’t have Apple books.
You can add, highlight and even see translations thanks to Google’s integrated ecosystem - but much like other reading apps, you cannot do much with your notes and highlights. Without a proper organization system in place, all you’ll be left with is a collection of notes that are difficult to sort.
Large selection of downloadable and audio books
Integrated Wiki and Google Translate options
Cannot organise export notes and highlights
Difficult to keep motivated
Only book reviews available (no social learning)
Scribd allows users to read books, listen to audiobooks and podcasts, read magazines, and even find sheet music so you can follow along your favorite tune. Although Forbes has described them as “The Netflix for books,” the app still remains limited in offers when compared to Apple Books or Kindle. That said, they do offer a subscription service that allows you access to unlimited content every month, so it might just be worth it!
The app offers the ability to highlight and take notes - perfect if you’re looking to engage in some active learning. That said, there are limitations, and not all resources can actually be annotated or highlighted.
Provides access to a wide range of books, audiobooks, and even sheet music
Offers personalization features to help readers discover new content.
Great if you’re already an avid learner and have self-motivation
Limitations on availability of popular titles due to licensing restrictions
Not all resources can be highlighted and annotated
Price is high if you’re looking to develop new learning habits
Ready to start your learning journey? 👉 Get Mindstone 👈