Instapaper is self-described as, “a simple tool to save web pages for reading later.” There, in a pithy statement, are both its pros and its cons.
The good: Instapaper does what it claims to do and it does it quickly, simply, and cleanly. While its primary use is to save web pages, you can also: 1) email links or forward long email messages to your Instapaper account for later reading anywhere and offline, 2) use it in conjunction with Google Reader, and 3) send pages directly from about 150 other apps including news sites, RSS feeders, and Twitter accounts.
The bad: Instapaper works most completely online (i.e., your desktop or laptop) and is best used as an offline reader on the IPhone or IPad.
The other “con” is that Instapaper is not free ($4.99) and since Read It Later does basically the same thing for free, you might choose that app over this one.
The bottom line: Instapaper is one of the best apps we found for marking, or saving, web pages for later reading. The ability to be accessed on an iOS device or via the web enhances its capabilities.
The Full Review:
Instapaper works with the Safari, Chrome, and Firefox browsers and supports the Android and Chrome OS as well as Kindle and ebook readers.
I use the IPad primarily as an ‘information receiver,’ i.e., I do not create material on it as much as I use it for downloading and recalling materials for use at another time. That makes Instapaper allows me to save those particular web pages to be read later. Once it is installed on your computer and mobile device, Instapaper is a one-click operation.
I like Instapaper and find it simple to use. The other evening I was searching the Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews for books on the philosopher Saul Kripke’s thought and 100 review titles appeared. I didn’t have time to read them all, let alone read them on line, but Instapaper allowed me to click on the titles I thought were interesting, click my Bookmarklet, and save the reviews to read later. Instapaper thus provides a quick way to get the bibliographic information I want and a convenient way to store it. Since I can also archive the material for later recall, save it to a specific folder, or forward it to another web address, Instapaper allows me to create a database for topics of research or interest.
Installation is not complicated, but it requires two steps. Initially you download Instapaper to your computer and to your mobile device. After establishing an Instapaper account, you drag the Instapaper icon to your Bookmark bar in Safari, Chrome, or Firefox and you are ready to use the application.
As Instapaper runs on the IPad, the IPhone and your computer, you can read these pieces from any of the devices at any time. Using Instapaper is also simple. When you are reading an article online but can’t read fully at the moment, you click on the Instapaper Bookmarklet and the article is downloaded to your Instapaper account. Then on your IPad, computer, et. al., you launch Instapaper and your saved pages are available.
The Instapaper screen provides four choices: Browse (which takes you to the Editor’s picks—usually not of interest to me), Unread (where your choices are first stored), Liked (entries you mark as favorites), and Archive (entries you store for further reference). Unread is the initial ‘folder’ and from here you can determine the fate of the piece you downloaded: delete, archive or make it a favorite.
Instapaper allows you to keep no more than 20 articles at a time in the Unread area and some might find this inconvenient. However, the idea is that you will read the downloaded piece you and determine if it is worth keeping (Archive) or if it should be discarded. I have not found the 20 article limit a problem in using the app. Overall, you can store up to 500 articles on your IPhone or IPad and the website provides unlimited storage space.
In the Unread area your article title is displayed along with its source and choices to share or edit the piece. Clicking on Edit shows you the URL, the title of the article and provides a space for summary comments. Clicking on Share allows you to email the citation of linking it to other apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Evernote.
On your computer Instapaper allows you to read the file either in a Text format or as it appears in its web form. However on the IPad and IPhone the web notations are stripped and only a Text format is available. That being said, you can read the article in its original form by launching a web browser from within Instapaper. You can also adjust the fonts, text sizes, and spacing and look up terms via a dictionary. Instapaper also provides a dark mode for night reading and the ability to set up folders for storage. Beyond that there are options to store the article, move it to a folder or share it with others. You can also email links or long emails or send items from Google Reader and other apps such as to your account for reading later.