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Read It Later's API and iPhone app get big updates

Popular personal bookmarking site Read It Later has a new API that lets developers build applications that can both read and write data stored on the service. Its iPhone app has also been overhauled.

Personal bookmarking service Read It Later has some nice new features this week for both users and developers.

On the user side, there's now an updated version of its reading application for the iPhone, which lets users access their saved reading list even when they're not near a data connection. The new version supports both password-protected sites and articles that are spread out over multiple pages. Once you've plugged in your password to a site that needs it, the app stores the password so you don't have to enter it each time the app needs to fetch a full article. And for stories that span multiple pages, the application will automatically detect this and download the content from the remaining pages.

Other small tweaks include an easier way to turn the auto-ration lock on and off, a currently-reading and recently-read list, as well as a scroll bar that lets you quickly jump to a later part of an article without having to do the Running Man with your fingers. It even shows you how far you've scrolled down in any given article, so you can hop back to where you were. These are small touches, but they can speed up how you navigate to and from each piece of content.

For developers, the service has updated its API to allow third parties to pull user data. Previously they could only write to it. This could make for some exciting apps in the future; one being a version of the software that can download article data in the background, even when you're not running it. As it stands with Read It Later for the iPhone, it can't download new article data for offline reading until the next time you launch it and have a data connection. Other platforms that allow background processes may see richer, fuller apps because of this.

Some of Read It Later's new iPhone features in screenshot form. Click to see in full-size. CNET