What If We Could Listen to Medium Articles as Podcasts (Concept)

There is one big problem on Medium for me: So many great articles posted every day, but so little time to read them all.

Ales Nesetril
Aug 4, 2015 · 6 min read

What if we could listen to all these great articles? I’ve come up with a quick concept to transform Medium App into an audio player by making just a few small adjustments within the existing app.

Problem

I was looking for a more effective way to consume all the content I save during the day and fit it inside my busy schedule. I mostly save articles I see on Medium (+ occasionally articles from big tech websites), and my bookmark section is growing almost daily. The only thing is that I have no time to read them all. Even by end of the day… I hate myself for this, because I’m missing so many great stories.

I was thinking someone could read the articles to me (if I can’t handle it myself)… Maybe some app? Text-to-audio?

On the other hand, I still want to feel the emotion of the story and not listen to some robot reading. Every. Word. Separately. With. No. Accent.

Sooooooo what now?

Solution?

I listen to a lot of podcasts, shows or talks in the background while I work or when I walk to the office, and I think it could be awesome to do the same thing with my saved Medium articles — listen to them as audio instead of reading them as text.

The whole functionality allowing this feature could be handled inside the existing mobile app. There is no need for a standalone app.

How?

Let’s take a look on the existing Medium iOS app and its article detail screen. Focus on the white bar in the bottom of the screen, which is used to introduce features available for each article. You can see “bookmark,” “like” and “share” icons. What about adding one more icon that allows you to play the article as audio?

It fits perfectly with the overall style of the app and fits the existing usage pattern of having similar features at the bottom of the screen.

If you want play the article as audio, you can just tap this little icon to open the audio player, and that’s it. Happy listening!

Nice, huh? Let's focus on the technical side now…

No extra software

You may be wondering where all the audio content could be made, what kind of text-to-voice software could be used in the background, etc. I think there is no need for such things. Writers could record themselves reading their own work and attach it to the story as an audio file.

Of course, adding an audio version of you article should not be required. Once you finish writing your story in the current version of the app, you are asked to add a few tags to help readers find your story. I think there is the best opportunity to ask for one more thing — a recording of your story.

Note: Users should not be pushed to record anything, but if they are asked to do something extra, they may feel they are improving their readers’ experience by allowing them to consume articles in a new way.

To give you a better idea about how it could look, I made a quick mockup to compare the current version and my version:

Recording audio

I also tried to design a recording screen using the existing UI style and colors. Again, the whole flow fits the existing style of the app. It’s a bit similar to adding tags, which is already something you can do.

All you have to do is press the microphone button and start reading. I was also thinking about adding some kind of indicator for highlighting words to help you maintain rhythm/speed while recording your story. But I wasn’t sure about the correct implementation. It may be confusing for users if they loose track on this indicator, and it could mess up their recording.

Once you finish recording, you can save it and go back to the “publish” screen, which will be in a different (finished) state. You can see the tags you selected and attach the audio file you just recorded. Hit “publish,” and your story is out…

More possibilities

Of course, this is just a quick concept I came up with in a few hours. But imagine how many things could be added soon or later. Just to mention a few of them:

  • Playlists — These would be like the music playlists we have on Spotify but with articles waiting in a queue to be played.
  • Interviews (because two voices are better then one) — There are plenty of interviews on Medium. It could be great to have a chance to play them as well. It could work in reverse: people could record interviews as audio, and then write them as articles as well.
  • Podcasts — These could be taken even more seriously and extended into their own podcast section on Medium. Podcasts are now coming back, and it could be great to have one place that includes great stories in both text and audio form. No need to have this as a separate section.
  • People with reading difficulties — Not able to read a story? Just play it.
  • Bedtime stories? — Some of us love reading before going to bed. Some of us use meditation or nature sounds to calm down and fall asleep. But what about listening to Medium stories while you’re in bed?

Got more ideas? Feel free to add comments :)

What do you think?

Is it just me, or do you guys have the same problem? Let me know in comments or write a short response to this article. It would also be interesting so know what the Medium staff thinks. I’ll keep you posted in case they contact me.


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Ales Nesetril, UI/UX designer with passion for minimalism & simplicity, currently working for STRV between Prague and San Francisco.

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STRV is a top-tier, one-stop mobile app development shop working with top-tier startups from Y Combinator and 500Startups, among others, across offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Prague.

Thanks to Maggie Appleton.

Ales Nesetril

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A product designer from Prague, Czech Republic, who focuses on interactive experiences & mobile apps, currently co-leading a design team at STRV.