Instapaper is a deceptively simple bookmarking application that allows users to save articles for later. Unlike a normal in-browser bookmark, however, Instapaper will allow users to share each of these bookmarks among several different devices; including computers, iPod touch, iPad, iPhone, several other mobile phones, and Kindle. Since everything is linked to the Instapaper account, users can access these bookmarks anywhere, reading them when and where they have time. Unlike in-browser bookmarks the Instapaper bookmarks are meant to be read once and either archived or discarded, avoiding a cluttered bookmarks bar that could grow more confusing than organized. Instapaper also allows users to create folders for their content so they can organize it by subject matter. The iPad version of the application includes even more features and functions to make reading in-depth content found on the web as easy as it should be.
Instapaper has received rave reviews from multiple sources, including Wired Magazine, Macworld, The New York Times, TechCrunch and PCMag. Marco Arment founded the company in January of 2008. There are currently 2 million registered user accounts.
Instapaper’s primary competitor is the app “Read It Later,” not to be confused with the “Read it Later” bookmark bar inherent to Instapaper. Read It Later is available across a broader variety of platforms, including Android, Palm 3, Blackberry, and the Ipad. Read It Later also offers a Digest edition which automatically groups your content into themes and gives it a magazine feel, which is a nice visual effect. However, most of the bells and whistles on Read It Later are available only in the paid version, whereas the Instapaper free version is nearly complete. That’s not to say that Instapaper doesn’t add more features on the paid version: it does. Those features are simply enhancements to an already complete, useful product.
Instapaper is very easy to use. Users can drag a new “Read it Later” bookmark category to the bookmark bar on their PC. When they find an article that they would like to read later they simply click on the Read It Later link on the bookmark bar rather than using their normal bookmark feature. The user will then see the “Saved” message on their browser screen. The message disappears a few moments later. Users can then log into their Instapaper account to find everything they have just saved.
Instapaper boasts one of the easiest registration processes around. The registration form asks only for a user name and a password. There are no password restrictions or security questions. Once this information is provided the user can get on with the business of using Instapaper.
There are two versions of Instapaper. Those without iPhones, iPads, or iPod touch will only ever use the free version. iPhone users have the option of paying $4.99 for a subscriber account. Subscriber accounts carry several advantages. Instapaper automatically converts each of the articles to a text optimized view: a paid subscriber can change the font and the text size to optimize their reading experience. Paid users can also take advantage of the dark mode for easy night reading and the ability to download up to 500 articles at a time.
This application is fantastic for anyone who is tired of reading endless “5 Things” list posts, written because bloggers and website owners believe that web users don’t have the time or patience to read good content. Instapaper recognizes that one might find content before it is convenient to read that content. People who routinely e-mail links to themselves to read later will enjoy Instapaper. It also makes a fantastic online swipe file for writers.