Whenever I talk about apps with friends, I end up going through their screens and folders to find which apps we have in common. While I tend to install and uninstall games all the time, there are apps that remain on my iPhone because they are basic for my every day life. I often ask which ones they use everyday to find out about gems have fallen off my app freak radar. In my case, I only need to go eight months back on my review to remember that at least one has stayed with me all this time on my home screen: Instapaper [iTunes Link].
The awesome web service by Marco Arment has been helping me to rediscover the experience of reading on my electronic devices. Let's be honest, if you are on Twitter or checking your RSS, there are links that you are going to miss because you don't have the time to read everything. With Instapaper, I can scan through my feeds without the fear of loosing any important bit of information. I sign in with my account, and applications including Twitter, Osfoora, Reeder and Google Reader (the lists goes on with 130 supported apps) will save those articles for me to read later. In one place. In a simplified format. And without the need of an internet connection.
When I first synched my iPad with my home Mac, I was delighted to see that Instapaper for iOS (formerly called Instapaper Pro) is a Universal app. The money spent months ago in the paid version really paid off having this beauty from day one on the iPad. The main functionality remains the same: The app works like a client that downloads a slimmed down version of your "Read later" content to make it available at any time. The app requires access to the internet to get the data, but will store it locally so you can read it even if you are offline.
I have no reservations recommending this app. It has changed the way I understand the internet, my reading habits and ensures that the time I spend in front of my iPad is quality time. I'm just waiting for the day my boss tells me to use it for work and stop wasting the company's time with useless research techniques.
The iPad version uses the standard Mail layout, no big innovation here, but gets the job done. If you're using folders, they appear on the left pane, while the vertical mode will resemble more to page view on iBooks. The biggest change for iPhone users has to be the dark grey tones used in the toolbars and black and white UI in general. It also includes options you know from other reading apps, font type, font size, interspacing and margins width. It also has the popular night mode, which turns the page's background black for easy reading at night. This has been proved perfect for morning reading to avoid waking up your partner in bed with the iPad's glow.
The teleprompter feature, an automatic scroll controlled by tilting is also bundled in, although I don't use it much as it freaks out fellow commuters. The latest update improves speed, enables sending to OmniFocus and QuickReader plus indicates the approximate length of the articles with some dots. Not perfect, as some headers and text from websites tend to be rendered in as well, but gives users a good a idea of what to expect.
My only issue is, however, the archiving system. Perhaps I'm contaminated by Reeder, also part of my daily workflow, but I would like that read articles could be archived automatically and then, disappear from the reading list. This issue is not exclusive to the iPad, since the web version also gives me archiving headaches. Marco, when is the "Select All" button coming?
I'm confident that the development of Instapaper will continue to wow us and to make lives more productive. If you want to find out a bit more about the person behind it, I suggest you "Read later" this interview at Fast Company.