There is so much content to consume on the internet today that trying to read or watch everything that you encounter in a day is a fool’s errand. There are also times when you like something you read or saw and want to re-read or refer to it later. This ‘saving the internet’ for later is the core service that apps like Instapaper and Pocket provide. They are the DVR for the internet and make it really easy to save and access content later.
I was an avid user of Pocket till a few months back. That was the service I chose four years ago when I first started saving articles to read later. But, after having saved almost 4000 saved articles, I didn’t like the direction in which the developers were taking the service. They were focussing more on the social aspects of saving and sharing content and I wanted my read-later service to be simple and intuitive (plus, I had over 1000 unread articles in my reading list and it was getting overwhelming :P). Another complaint that I had against Pocket was that a lot of times, pictures in articles that I was reading wouldn’t show up. I gave Instapaper, arguably the service that started the read-later trend a whirl and now, I think that it is one that everyone should use for their read-later needs.
Simplicity is what Instapaper focusses on. The service doesn’t try to do too much. You can save stuff to the service from almost anywhere (through their apps and Safari and Chrome extensions). You can organise your links into folders and sort them in a couple of different ways. The reading view Instapaper provides is, I think, better than Pocket’s reading view. Once inside an article, you can change the fonts, add notes to the article, share it anywhere you want and also activate ‘Speed Read’, a feature where the service runs you through the article by flashing one word at a time on your screen. That’s it. I like the minimal approach of the service and it lets me focus on what I want to read without a constant barrage of other features that I wouldn’t want to use. You can also subscribe to ‘Instapaper Weekly’, a service which will email you the most popular stories from the internet every Sunday, import saved articles from other services and configure your Instapaper account to show your latest saved links on your Kindle. One thing that I do feel is missing is the ability to see when an article was saved. The Instapaper website shows when I saved an article but the same doesn’t seem to be possible in their apps.
Some of the aforementioned features were a paid purchase in previous versions of Instapaper, but after its recent acquisition by Pinterest, the service has gone free for all users. Pinterest has also promised that the Instapaper team will keep focussing on improving the core experience of the service. I’m a fan of simple and minimal apps which cater well to my needs and when it comes to saving stuff on the Internet for later and then going through it, Instapaper, according to me, is the best service out there.
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