It’s not very often that you come across an app or service that really makes you wonder how you managed to stay sane before you started using it. For many iPhone owners, that app is Instapaper. Instapaper, developed by Marco Arment, is your inbox for articles. Whenever you come across an article that you’d like to save for a more convenient time, send it to Instapaper, where it will waiting for you even if you’re offline. With Instapaper, you’ll never have to miss another article again.
Not only does Instapaper provide you with a place to store all of your unread articles, it also wants you to enjoy reading them as much as possible, which is why the reading environment is completely customizable. Instapaper comes with twelve different fonts, adjustable font sizes, light and dark modes, and even a tilt scrolling option. And if you’d like to keep articles for the long run, you can archive them, or save them in your own custom folders.
There are three different ways that you can add new articles to Instapaper from your iPhone, via email, Safari, and third party apps. If you go into the settings and click on the ‘Add Read Later by Email’ button, Instapaper will add a new contact to your iPhone contacts named ‘Instapaper: Read Later’. The contact will come with an email address attached to it. Whenever you come across an article you’d like to save, just send it to that address.
Right under the email button in the settings, you’ll see another button called ‘Install Read Later in Safari’. Click on it, and you’ll be given instructions on how to add the Instapaper bookmarklet. It may seem a little confusing, but as the app explains, there’s just no simpler way to do it. Once it’s installed, click on the bookmarklet (which you’ll find in your bookmarks) to save web pages from anywhere in Safari.
Lastly, you can add articles from a huge selection of third party sources. Popular apps such as Tweetbot, Tweetlogix, Flipboard, Pulse, Zite, and Reeder all support it. All you have to do is login with your Instapaper credentials and you’re good to go. For a complete list of apps that integrate with Instapaper, visit the ‘App Directory’, which can be found in the settings.
Like any good iPhone app, Instapaper has its social networking side. After connecting your Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and iPhone contacts, Instapaper shows you a list of all your friends that also use the service, and allows you to follow them. Whenever they ‘like’ an article in Instapaper, you’ll be able to view it in the ‘Liked by Friends’ tab, which is inside of the ‘Friends’ section. There’s also a ‘Shared Links’ tab that aggregates links shared by your friends on your connected social networks. In order to keep the focus on reading though, Instapaper doesn’t notify you when you have a new follower, and there’s no way to check how many people are currently following you. So it’s like a social network, but one that prioritizes on finding you new content and not on collecting followers.
Should you want to share an article with your friends, Instapaper allows you to send articles to Facebook Twitter, Tumblr, Pinboard, and Evernote. To make things even better, Instapaper also supports sharing to specific iPhone apps. There are many different apps that Instapaper integrates with for its sharing capabilities, but instead of listing them all, it shows you the ones you’ve already installed on your phone. It currently shows me that I can send articles to the official Twitter app, Tweetbot, OmniFocus, Simplenote, and Drafts. Personally, this is one of the main features that made me want to try out Instapaper in the first place. It’s always easier adjusting to a new service when it already integrates with some of your most used apps, and Instapaper was no exception.
If you enjoy using Instapaper, and find yourself saving articles on a daily (or hourly) basis, you may want to consider getting an Instapaper subscription. Instapaper subscribers are able to search through their saved articles by keyword, except this search is a little bit more advanced than your typical in app search bar. Once you’ve typed a word in, Instapaper will search through all of your articles, even the ones that are archived and in folders, and will present you with the ones that contain that word. But it doesn’t just search by title, it goes through the entire article, every single word of it. If you were reading an article about iPhones, but can’t remember what it was called, just type in iPhone, and Instapaper will take care of the rest. Subscriptions start at $2.99 for three months, $5.99 for six months, and $11.99 for one year.
Everyone hates inboxes, and it seems like there’s always a new one that claims to ease your life if only you integrate it into your workflow. Be it email, task management, or even plain old notes, everything nowadays is taking the form of an inbox. Believe me when I tell you that this is one inbox you can’t live without. You may need to set aside a few minutes at the end of every day to empty out your Instapaper inbox, but that’s far better than the alternative- not reading the articles at all because you didn’t have time when you found them. Give it a shot. I honestly don’t think it’s possible that you’ll regret it.