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Doors close fast when a big giant like Pinterest gobbles up a smaller Instapaper. But sometimes a ray of light shines through which promises more. The bookmark-and-read-it-later service was bought out by Pinterest in August. Instead of shuttering it, Pinterest has decided to open it up for everyone.
In short, Instapaper Premium is now free and open for all.
If you had sent them $29.99 for a year’s worth of Premium access, worry not. Instapaper says existing Premium subscribers will get back the subscription cost and will not be billed further.
The Big Benefits of Free-dom
The free version was always good for handling your read-it-later bookmarks on any device. But there were some fine features tucked away in the paid plan. All of it available to us penny-pinchers now. They include:
- An ad-free Instapaper website.
- Full-text search for all articles.
- Unlimited notes.
- Text-to-speech playlists.
- Unlimited speed reading.
- “Send to Kindle” via bookmarklet and mobile apps.
- Kindle Digests of up to 50 articles.
As before, there’s no limit to how many articles you can store. And your archive of read items is kept indefinitely (unless you delete from it).
If you are a Pocket fan, then it is worth taking a second look at Instapaper again. An ad-free experience is usually what makes you pay up, for an uncluttered reading. But let’s cast our eyes down the list to check out the other productivity benefits.
1. Find With Full Text Search for All Articles
This might not be so useful if you blow hot and cold with online reading. But any kind of researcher would love to save a ton of articles on a topic and can search through them for the right information.
The Advanced Search is limited. But you can use it to limit search to collected articles from one website.
Remember, you can open any article in Reader View right from the search results. You can use the icons on top or swipe across any article on your cell and manage it by choosing Move to Folder, Archive, Delete, or Share.
2. Support Your Reading With Unlimited Notes
It is easy to get articles into Instapaper. But reading needs retention. Highlighting and annotating important snippets is one of the better ways to spike recall.
Free users were limited to just five notes per month. With Premium access for all, you now have the facility to create unlimited notes.
But highlight and annotate with a purpose.
Relate what you are reading to something you already know. Or, use the highlighted text to jot down your own insights. You can also use a note to write down a bulleted summary of what you learned or how you plan to act. Make these interconnections and you will have taken a step towards active recall.
A tip I learned: start a fictitious conversation with the author. This will spur critical thinking and make you a better writer.
Here are two more ways to use Notes:
- Use this IFTTT recipe to share your notes with the team on a Slack channel.
- Turn on the option and you can automatically tweet your highlights, or post them to a Tumblr blog, or drop them into Evernote.
Using Notes and Highlights helps you turn Instapaper into a personal journal with the help of online wisdom. Maybe, like Ryan Holiday you can try starting a “commonplace book” in Instapaper.
3. Make Special Text-to-Speech Playlists
Read with your ears. How useful is the text to speech feature on iOS and Android when you are driving or just relaxing?
Pocket has Listen. Instapaper has Text to Speech playlist. iOS and Android have their inbuilt TTS feature, but it helps to seamlessly use it from within the Instapaper itself.
Though, multitasking may be frowned upon, both are invaluable when you are doing mundane chores or working out. Or, just want to relax your eyes. You can send all long office emails and newsletters to your Instapaper email address and use TTS to go through them quickly.
Instapaper has one advantage over Pocket. You can create a playlist of articles.
Organize your articles around a specific topic or project (maybe in a Instapaper folder). Click the Options icon on top (three dots in a row) and click on Playlist. Select the articles you would like to include. Click Create Playlist.
Instapaper taps into the TTS feature of Android and iOS to read the articles. Adjust the speed to your liking. In iOS, you can choose a voice for every language supported.
Tip: Use a folder specific bookmarklet to build a collection in that folder. You can use this to focus on any project.
Example: Want to practice a new language? Curate foreign language articles in a folder and change the language of the TTS engine to have them read out to you. The voices also reflect specific dialects.
4. Skim Before You Read
Try the speed reading demo now. Comfortable?
I feel speed reading prevents deep learning, but there are people who swear on its time saving benefits.
Instapaper and its speed reading feature could help you get a big picture overview of a long document. It could help you decide if you want to read the saved content or ignore it. If you want to, engage with it more slowly.
Measuring your reading speed is far easier than placing a yardstick on your reading comprehension. But this is an ability you can try it and see if it works for you — at least for some types of content.
5. Take Your Reading to Kindle
Greedy readers know all the obvious benefits of reading on a Kindle. Less eye strain thanks to the e-ink and backlight eyes and a better battery mileage are two ones that matter when you have a fat unread count. Instapaper also allows you to control the background of the app. But Kindle comes to the fore when you want to read in bright sunlight and just when you run out of electric outlets.
You can set up Instapaper with Kindle and receive a daily or weekly digest of 10/20/50 unread articles at a time of your choosing.
Pocket does not have this as an official feature, though there are Send-to-Kindle workarounds available.
6. Use Instapaper as a Video Playlist
There is the usual way to bookmark videos and save them to your Instapaper Videos folder. As you can make out from the screen below, it is a far more clutterless experience.
The Premium Feature You Like Best
Which feature will make the biggest difference to your reading?
You can use Instapaper as a research tool. Take it beyond content curation by capturing inspiration with notes. Organize with folders. And spur your reading habit with a plan.
The move from Premium to free is great news for online curators. The near future will reveal the plans Pinterest has for the read-it-later service. Let us hope it is not only saved but improved. For now, let us enjoy the good news and exploit the free features to discover and digest new knowledge.
Do you use a read-it-later service? Tell us about your favorite. Does this move from Premium to Free make you rethink your choice?