Android iPhone and iPad

Forget Reading. Now You Can Listen to Articles From Popular Sites [iOS/Android]

Nancy Messieh 02-02-2013

Forget Reading. Now You Can Listen to Articles From Popular Sites [iOS/Android] UmanoLogoIf you’ve been looking for a new way form of entertainment for your commute, your morning jog, or your time at the gym, iOS and Android users can take advantage of a new free app, Umano. The idea behind Umano couldn’t be simpler, and it’s surprising that no one has thought of this before now. Umano has a team of professional voice actors recording readings of articles from popular online sites and magazines from around the Web. Bringing podcast or audiobook elements to the fast-paced world of blogging and online articles makes perfect sense.


Signing up for an account allows you to create a playlist and manage your favorite articles, but the app is otherwise completely usable without signing up for an account. To sign up for an account, you can log in using your Facebook credentials, or create a new account with your email. The real advantage to creating a playlist is that it gives users access to offline listening, perfect for keeping up with the news on the go during your commute or at the gym.

Forget Reading. Now You Can Listen to Articles From Popular Sites [iOS/Android] Umano1
Forget Reading. Now You Can Listen to Articles From Popular Sites [iOS/Android] Umano2

After signing up for an account (or skipping that step if you’re so inclined), you can access a variety of articles either by popularity or by topics. The first part of the menu features the most popular articles, your own playlist, and your likes (or bookmarked articles). The second part of the menu features 6 topics (or interests): entertaining, must know, geeky, entrepreneurial, inspirational and scientific. The best place to start is to browse the popular articles. The list included posts from Forbes, Science Daily, Flavorwire, Lifehacker, The New Yorker and more.

Forget Reading. Now You Can Listen to Articles From Popular Sites [iOS/Android] Umano6
Forget Reading. Now You Can Listen to Articles From Popular Sites [iOS/Android] Umano8



To open up an article, simply tap on the story and it will open up, and the reading will begin straight away. Each article page is accompanied by a link to the full story, which you can open up in the app’s native browser. It will also tell you which ‘channel’ (or in other words, website) the article appears in, and makes it easy to look up more articles from that same site. Lastly, you can also easily share articles directly from Umano to Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or via email. You can also add the article to your likes by hitting the like button underneath the image accompanying the article.

Forget Reading. Now You Can Listen to Articles From Popular Sites [iOS/Android] Umano7Forget Reading. Now You Can Listen to Articles From Popular Sites [iOS/Android] Umano3

To add an article to your playlist, double tap the story and it will be added, making it available for offline listening. When you first access your playlist after adding articles to it, you can choose to automatically download articles for offline listening. If you choose not to automatically download articles, you can always go to the app settings at a later time to switch this option on, and to restrict downloading to WiFi connections only.

Other app settings include automatically playing the next article when listening to a channel, receiving daily reminders, and automatically sharing your likes or listens with your Facebook friends.


Forget Reading. Now You Can Listen to Articles From Popular Sites [iOS/Android] Umano5

Now for the most important aspect of the app – listening to articles. Because the articles are read by real people, rather than relying on a robotic voice, it’s no different to listening to a podcast. It makes for easy listening, and brings the same idea of audio books to your favorite online sources, no matter what your interests happen to be. We couldn’t be happier with the way that articles are read on Umano, and appreciate the fact that the source of the article is mentioned in the intro, meaning you don’t have to worry about looking at your smartphone screen to know which site or magazine is behind the article you’re listening to.

The choice of sources on Umano are also pretty solid. The most popular sites and magazines are included, but if there’s one feature we wouldn’t mind seeing – it would be a way to search for articles or sources. It also isn’t entirely clear how articles are selected from each site.

These are, of course, minor nitpicks when it comes to the overall experience that Umano provides. The app itself is slick and intuitive, but more importantly, the listening experience is enjoyable. At this point, it’s hard to imagine what our commutes were like prior to Umano.


What do you think of Umano? Let us know in the comments.

Related topics: Audiobooks, Podcasts.

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  1. Jovan Ivanovi?
    February 19, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    I love it, great app

  2. Elizabeth
    February 6, 2013 at 10:12 pm

    Yikes. You know civilization is going downhill when an article proudly encourages its *cough* readers *cough* to (ahem) "forget reading."

    "Literacy is so 20th century."

  3. Omar Hiweish
    February 6, 2013 at 5:58 pm

    Interesting app, I will check it out

  4. Prabhdeep Gill
    February 4, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    Thanks for the awesome review Nancy!

    Search is something we definitely have in our pipeline. Look out for it in the next few releases.

    Let us know at support [at] umanoapp [dot] com if there is anything else you would like to see in the app to improve your experience.

    • Nancy Messieh
      February 4, 2013 at 8:58 pm

      Thanks for letting us know Prabhdeep! Looking forward to seeing the updated version.

  5. Rubis Song
    February 4, 2013 at 11:25 am

    This is a very interesting app. But does it support other languages such as french?

    • Nancy Messieh
      February 4, 2013 at 8:54 pm

      I'm afraid not - it looks like Umano only uses English sources.

  6. Ramesh Krishna
    February 4, 2013 at 12:22 am

    SoundGecko is also best service for listing to any website

    • Nancy Messieh
      February 4, 2013 at 8:56 pm

      SoundGecko is pretty cool - but it's all computer generated. Umano uses professional voice actors - so it's more like listening to a podcast or radio show - much nicer than having a Siri-like voice reading to you :)

  7. Nevzat Akkaya
    February 2, 2013 at 10:05 am

    looks like a good service.