After a short delay, Medium released its iPhone app today with a focus on reading and recommending stories. "Every week, thousands of people come to Medium to write," company founder Ev Williams said in a post on the site. "That's the hard part. We're just helping amplify their voices."
After signing in with Twitter, the app presents you with a list of stories based on what's popular and what you have already chosen to follow. It tells you about how long it will take to read each story, and if you get bored partway through, you can swipe to the next story. The app also lets you share articles through Twitter, Facebook, and email.
A kind of YouTube for text
Medium, which has raised $25 million, has evolved into a kind of YouTube for text: it's a place to post essays using an elegant, highly visual publishing platform, without having to commit to starting a blog or building an independent audience. Power users can gather articles into collections of related content, which can be browsed through the app by tapping on the name of a collection when it appears in an article. But navigating articles using the app is an exercise in serendipity: you navigate primarily by swiping, with no way to tell what story is going to pop up next. There's no search feature, making it difficult to find particular stories or authors.
You also can't write stories using the app, though Medium says the feature is coming eventually. And for now, there's no word on an Android app. But for those who want to dive deeper into the stories posted on Medium each day, the iPhone app offers a characteristically elegant way of browsing through them.