This is a comparison between the top 3 read-it-later applications. If you aren’t in the productivity or note-taking space, you may not know what “read-it-later” applications are. The easiest way for me to define them is to say they are a bookmarking application for websites, articles, books, emails, newsletters, tweets, and more. Some of these applications can store more than others and that is what this write-up is going to go over.
Without further ado, let’s get into this.
|Can it save..?||Readwise/Reader||Omnivore||Raindrop|
|Highlights on?||directly on web page||only in web app||directly on web page|
|Android App||x||Progressive web app||x|
|Offline Support||x||x||Paid tier only|
|Based out of?||–||–||–|
|Headquarters Location||Toronto, CA||Singapore||Uzbekistan|
|Data/Server Location(s)||Unable to find||USA||Germany|
|Price in USD||–||–||–|
|Monthly||14-day free trial then $4.99/month or $8.99/month||FREE||FREE or $3/month|
|Yearly||14-day free trial then $4.49/month or $7.99/month||FREE||FREE or $28/year|
|Any discounts?||Student discount for 50% off if you email [email protected] before subscribing.||Not needed||No.|
With the brief table out of the way, I’m going to be going over the differences in more detail here. If you are looking for something in particular, I recommend searching this page with
CTRL/CMD + F.
As you can see there are quite a few differences between the apps. Most people are going to look for a free option first so they can try it. Good news is they all either have a free tier or a free trial for you to test the apps before you use it.
Your first question would probably be “Why did you combine Readwise & Reader?” I did that because they are owned by the same company. Reader is Readwise’s answer to Pocket, Omnivore, Raindrop and others. It makes using their apps more confusing because you will save bookmarks (via the browser extension) to Reader, newsletters to Reader, but book highlights and discord messages and tweets to Readwise. So, if you don’t merge everything into a notetaking app like Logseq or Obsidian, you have to use 2 different websites or applications to view everything you have saved. Reader & Readwise do not have an app (yet), they are browser based which makes this even more annoying.
This is different from Raindrop that has applications on every device you use it on PLUS a website you can use. Omnivore & Readwise/Reader are only on the web. So, if this is something you care about, you are better off using Raindrop.
Next, you may be wondering why I included the “Based out of?” section in the table. This is due to privacy concerns that I have and I’m sure other people have. This is something that all companies should have as public knowledge and it is kind of off-putting to not be able to find where Readwise stores your data. As if it is in a place like China, the Chinese Government can see all of your data and require servers/companies in China to provide the government with any and all data stored there. It is scary.
Now, bookmarks aren’t the most important items to keep from prying eyes though they can be used for social engineering and selling your data to advertisers. So, if this is something you care about, this is something to research on any and all apps you use on all of your devices.
Another thing you may want to know is that Raindrop & Readwise/Reader support highlights directly on the web pages, as shown below. So, when you revisit the web page (which you have to in Raindrop, more on that later), you can see any important highlights and their notes directly on the page.
This is versus Omnivore where you can only make highlights and notes directly in the iOS app or the Progressive Web App (everywhere else). So, highlights and notes are separate from bookmarks.
Going back to revisiting webpages, Raindrop stores bookmarks, yes, though when you go back to view them, you view them in a min-browser within the application for certain items. For example, Reddit links that are saved to Raindrop are shown in this browser which you can see below.
It also offers a “permanent copy” feature which means if the user delete’s their post (or commentor deletes their replies) or the website goes down for 1 reason or another, with the paid version of Raindrop, you can see the status of the page when you saved it. Though sometimes this may not work…
Also, when it does work for Reddit (in particular) it stores it in a weird way…
Also, this feature is not obvious on mobile. I had to read the documentation in order to figure out that when you just press on a bookmark, it opens up the mini-browser by default.
Instead you have to press and hold on the bookmark, and press on Highlights (to see highlights) or Permanent Copy to see the saved page.
Then you get the same permanent copy you get on desktop…
This is different from Omnivore that saves it in its online web viewer, which still needs a lot of work.
Readwise doesn’t save the page at all. You have to open the browser to view Reddit links.
Though when it does save pages, it has the nicest looking layout from all of the apps. This is the same article in all 3 apps (below):
This is how the page looks when you visit the page:
You can see the page is littered with ads everywhere and these apps do a good job of removing them. One thing I don’t like about the Omnivore view, though, is the fact that the original (main) image of Kelsea Ballerini is not kept. It just looks like a wall-of-text. That is not fun to read at all.
I have to say, my favorite view is the Raindrop one. As Readwise’s Reader keeps the word “advertisement” between each paragraph to denote that there was an advertisement there…. why? who cares?
The fact that Raindrop also allows you to view the web version inside the app (without having to open a new tab in your browser or anything) is super nice.
What about labels/categories/some kind of organizational structure? Do any of these provide one?
Yes. They all provide labels/tags or some version of sorting.
Raindrop provides “Collections” which are basically folders as well as tags and pre-defined filters.
Readwise’s Reader provides filters and you can add custom tags. Though, you can’t make this left sidebar bigger (from what I can see in settings). If there is a keyboard shortcut, it isn’t obvious. You can see the icons that are available.
Tags are stored in a separate place. You have to click on manage tags at the top of the page which takes you to the page below.
Omnivore’s is the simplest of the 3. It provides “saved searches” which are basically filters and labels. That’s it. Subscriptions are newsletters you have sent straight to Omnivore which only Omnivore and Readwise’s Reader provide.
Omnivore is also the only one that allows you to create tags at any time and customize how those tags look. You can use custom colors, provide a description and a name. You can modify the tags from this page as well.
With Raindrop and Reader you have to add a new bookmark in order to modify tags.
It was not obvious how to add tags to articles. As you can see, I tried “edit metadata” which is where I believed it would be… This is not the case. It was under “Edit Document Tags”… This isn’t a document so I thought that was there in error.
Tags in both work the same way as they do in any application. They start with a pound sign aka hashtag and end with what you want to label it. In this case I would use #celeb-news. Press enter and the tag gets added.
In both of these, you just add the name and that’s it. There isn’t any other customization of the tags.
THOUGH, with Raindrop’s “Collections” feature, you can customize the folders that these bookmarks live in with custom images or colors so it is easy to differentiate between them.
Readwise does not have any of these customization features that Ominivore and Raindrop provide which is astounding seeing as Readwise is over $100 a year USD if you are not a student and regardless of whether you pay monthly or annually. That is EXPENSIVE in comparison to $26/year for Raindrop (to unlock ALL features) or FREE for Omnivore. You can even pay for Raindrop for 1 year and any permanent saves you made in that year, you keep. So you don’t have to renew to keep your most important stuff.
So, what are your thoughts? Which one are you using?
These are all fantastic apps. There are plenty of features that Readwise has that Reader & Omnivore don’t. This article is long already so I’ll include a list of links here to YouTube videos that go over Readwise features:
- Readwise Official Obsidian Plugin
- Readwise Reader – How I Process EVERYTHING I Read
- Readwise Reader kinda blew me away
- This app will change the way you read forever
Those 4 videos should give you plenty of information though if it doesn’t, Readwise has an official YouTube Channel which you can check out as well.
As far as which app I use, I am swapping between Raindrop and Omnivore. Omnivore is getting a discord bot soon according to the developer. I started making it, but something came up and I had to drop the project though I provided the Omnivore dev all of the code. This discord bot should work similar to Readwise’s where you can just use an emoji on any message and it sends it to your discord DMs as well as to Omnivore. There will be additional features but that is the bare minimum I was thinking of having.
Currently, Readwise is the only option for saving information from Discord due to the way it works. Saving a link in Raindrop or Omnivore just redirects you to login to Discord and doesn’t save the information. THOUGH, Discord messages are saved as “tweets” in Readwise and NOT Reader which is very confusing. Supposedly Readwise will be combining Readwise with Reader and when that happens it will be WAYY less confusing. Currently though, half your stuff is in Readwise and the other half is in Reader and Reader is only able to be viewed online.
Regardless of which you choose you have cons as no app is perfect. I like Omnivore because it is open-source and the developers are super responsive when it comes to feature requests and issues with the app/website. I like Raindrop because of the permanent backups and the categorization. I’ve tried importing these bookmarks to Obsidian but I only really do that when there are items I need to link to within Obsidian. After writing this all up though, I am probably going to stick with Raindrop as my main source. The price is good at free or $28/year and I like how I can view things either on the web or their viewer with the permanent copies/previews. Plus, the categorization that is provided is just as good as Obsidian’s. On top of that you can vote on features you would like added (just like with Omnivore) and see the status of them. Though it isn’t very quick cause I’ve had mine up since April 25 and only 3 votes.
Either way, Raindrop is my favorite out of the apps I’ve used. What about you? Do you use a bookmarking/read-it-later app? If so, which one and why?