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Substack launches an iOS app for reading newsletters

The new app is a Substack-focused inbox for subscribers

Image: Substack

Loyal Substack readers now have a way to keep all of their subscriptions in a dedicated place: the new Substack reader app. The app is only available on iOS for now; Android users can sign up for a waitlist.

The standalone app pulls all of a user’s newsletter subscriptions into one inbox, placed alongside a discovery tab for readers to find new publications. Podcast and video subscriptions are accessible in the app, as are comment sections. Users can also add RSS feeds to the app.

“The app helps bring together Substack as an ecosystem, giving you an icon to tap on your home screen that opens up a treasury of quality work by the writers you most trust,” the company writes.

Some features in the app are designed to help readers find new publications. Adjacent to the inbox is a “Discover” tab with suggestions for readers by categories like culture, politics, and sports. The featured “this week” section includes newsletters by Patti Smith and Bari Weiss, among others.

The app is also something of a step away from email: users of the app can pause email delivery of newsletters, instead opting to only receive mobile notifications. Substack says emails will automatically resume if a reader stops using the app.

In its announcement, Substack puts itself in stark contrast with other platforms like Craigslist, Google, and Facebook that have “eroded the media business and stripped writers — and other culture makers — of their financial dignity.” The company has pitched itself as a place where writers can fully own their work and their mailing list — and leaving is easy if they so choose. The app inches Substack toward being a more centralized publisher, though, where the platform matters as much as the writing infrastructure it provides.

Though the app is geared more towards readers (authors can’t draft posts in it, for example), Substack emphasizes that the app benefits writers, too, especially around growing their audience. But though readers can subscribe to new publications via the app, they can’t upgrade to a paid subscription or subscribe automatically at a paid level, presumably to avoid Apple’s 30 percent in-app purchase fee. Subscriptions can be updated on the web via the publication’s page in the app.