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instapaper iosInstapaper converts sad, hard-to-look-at walls of text into happy, easy-on-the-eyes formats for those of us who like to read on the bus, during meetings, or in waiting rooms.

Also designed for those of us who also don’t have much time to read up on current events, the app allows for cross-platform bookmarking of articles for later. Each article is even saved offline, so you don’t have to worry about extra data charges. Does it actually work? Absolutely. Does it do it well? I’d say so.

It’s a super simple app, so just know it isn’t exactly a traveling circus’ creepy sideshow. Nothing too crazy will be thrown at you. Of course, I don’t know your choice of reading material. Maybe you like reading blogs that exclusively cover the true stories of sheep who are used for smuggling illegal amounts of chocolate with rare Perlupian cocoa into foreign countries. I don’t judge. The Perlupian chocolate sheep trade is pretty darn interesting, anyway.

Save Everything For Later

Installing a Javascript-focused bookmark to your computer’s browser is the most common way of saving articles. This means you must be logged into your Instapaper account at all times, and as expected, this also means you have to add yet another account to your likely already-long list. (One of these days, every single service app’s TOS will sneak in a clause that says by simply signing up we automatically owe them 5% of our income. That day will be a total bummer for us all.)

instapaper ios

You can also save emails by forwarding them to a custom Read It Later address. This helps people who read emails in-browser, but for people who use Mail or a similar app, it’s kind of pointless.


instapaper readability

Articles can also be saved using your iPhone with a Safari bookmark, but unfortunately, apps like Chrome Google Chrome - A Fantastic Replacement For Mobile Safari [iOS] Google Chrome - A Fantastic Replacement For Mobile Safari [iOS] Do you use Chrome on your computer to browse the web? A lot of people do, as it is one of the most popular web browsers out there. It runs fast, and it offers a... Read More and FireFox 5.5 Great Firefox Extensions To Make Facebook Awesome [Weekly Facebook Tips] 5.5 Great Firefox Extensions To Make Facebook Awesome [Weekly Facebook Tips] Facebook users are continually finding themselves frustrated by settings that cannot be changed within Facebook, or simply finding that Facebook is too integrated (or not integrated enough) into the rest of their lives. The good... Read More are left in the dust. Oddly enough, there’s also a Web feature that allows you to access whole sites in-app for conversion, but this appears to only be part of the bells and whistles. In all honesty, computer browser-based bookmarking is the strongest text-saving feature that this app has to offer.

instapaper readability

Customize Your Reading Experience

I can’t read tiny text, so I was happy to see that Instapaper offers a lot of control as far as readability goes. In-article, you can change the font, background color, text size, line spacing, and even margin sizes. You can even adjust the brightness of the screen without going into your General Settings.

instapaper readability

I can’t really say anything bad as far as text reformatting go. Besides this are a few other options:

  • Tilt scrolling.
  • External app integration (with a directory featuring over 150 other apps).
  • Customizable pagination (iBook-style or “fast”).
  • Automatic Dark Mode (for night reading).

Even though all of these features were available,  I couldn’t say they really helped or hurt the app. Tilt scrolling seemed kind of pointless, but the integration with other content-based apps was pretty cool. With apps like CNN and even Alien Blue, you’ll never have a shortage of reading material. Instapaper can even integrate with apps like Twitter and automatically convert the links from accounts that you follow.

Instapaper also offers in-app featured articles and custom folder creation. As far as the featured articles though, it would appear that they are not suited to user interests. Custom folders can help separate articles based on interests, however.

instapaper readability read later

Connect With Your Friends

As with almost every single app of today, Instapaper strives to be social. By connecting your social media accounts, you can add friends and see what they are reading. Of course, that’s only if they “like” an article or purposefully share it in-app.

instapaper ios


Subscriptions are an extra feature for Instapaper that exist, but I’m not really sure if it’s absolutely necessary. For the price, it just didn’t seem that appealing to me. Subscribers are able to make use of the full account search feature which allows for searches of the full text of articles in both app folders and personalized online Archives. The app also notes that there is “enhanced functionality” on the Instapaper website, but even that wasn’t enough to win me over. If this interests you at all, look at the prices below:

  • 3 Months – $2.99
  • 6 Months – $5.99
  • 1 Year – $11.99

The app is great, but it’s already $3.99. Is a subscription really worth that much more?

Is Instapaper An Instant Buy?

If you have some spare cash and regularly find yourself in situations where concise, all-in-one-place reading material would help, then I’d say go ahead and download Instapaper. But in actuality, Instapaper isn’t offering anything new. It just takes your normal reads and makes them prettier.

Have you ever used Instapaper? Would an app like this one help you?

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  1. Justin Winokur
    January 8, 2013 at 4:24 pm

    One of the things that also make Instapaper standout is that their bookmarklet doesn't just send the URL for the service to crawl; it actually send what you are seeing. So it can handle things that are behind a paywall or the like.

    Also, they have an email address for your account so you can email things to read later. Finally, you can have things sent to your kindle every day!

    • Joshua Lockhart
      January 8, 2013 at 4:32 pm

      Great stuff, Justin. : ) Thanks for the info.