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Review: Instapaper for iPad and iPhone

by on August 29th, 2010

Sometimes, I come across an app that changes how I handle my day-to-day life. These apps make me wonder how I functioned before they took over their particular niche in my life, and make the $800-odd decision of buying an iPad seem absolutely – fruitful.

Instapaper is no doubt one of those apps. For those than have not heard, Instapaper is a service that allows you to save articles you find but lack the time or attention span to tackle at that particular moment. These articles are saved to your account, stripped of all the messy advertisements usually strewn across the side of webpages, and are sortable into folders at the users discretion. The service is free, and has extensions for a number of browsers as well as bookmarklets to save any article you come to on either your mobile or desktop web surfing sessions.

Now, the site is… alright, and it might do for some. But for heavy users, the only way to go is the iOS app; it beats out the site on all accounts. When opening the app (after you have set up your account settings) you are greeted with your basic “Read Later” cue – all the articles, from every source, all in one handy list for you to take a crack at when you have the time. The design is minimal and, more importantly, very eye-friendly; the user has a choice between black text on gray background or white text on black background (for night reading). Text size is also changeable, for those users with, say, weaker-than-normal eyesight (a group in which I unfortunately count myself).

Instapaper has a no-nonsense interface to get you right to the articles.

Instapaper does not stop there, though; the developer really takes it to another level with the carefully selected features, which are at the same time comprehensive and not overwhelming. Articles can be opened in Mobile Safari, moved into folders, emailed, or posted on Twitter or to your Tumblr blog. If you were in the middle of reading an article and had to move to another app, when you return to your reading Instapaper will remember your position and take you there right away. Another interesting, if slightly less useful, feature is the ability to enable tilt scrolling, eliminating the need to do all that terribly tiring thumb work.

There are a couple caveats to my recommendation of this app, though. The formatting of articles is often not quite kosher with the original article, and on some sites the comments section of the article (usually not the most intellectually-stimulating reading) is included with the article. These problems are understandable and, likely, unavoidable in some cases, but they can be slightly off-putting nonetheless.

Instapaper is designed for both your iPad and iPhone/iPod Touch, making the $4.99 purchase all the more juicy [iTunes link here]. There is no free version for the iPad, but if you do have an iPhone, that option is also available for the shallow-pocketed [iTunes link].

Instapaper has taken the second spot on my dock – how about you guys?

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Posted under: App Store, Reviews