Betaworks shares the details behind the custom algorithm that I assumed was behind Instapaper's new sorting feature in my review.

The first major update since the app was sold by original founder and developer Marco Arment to Betaworks earlier this year, Instapaper 5.0 has been released today on the App Store as a free update for existing owners of the app. Instapaper 5.0 doesn’t add any new major functionality to the app, which is still largely similar to the version 4.0 that was first released two years ago. Betaworks made the app ready for iOS 7, polished the interface, and added some new minor functionalities that, however, nicely complement the reading experience. I’ve been testing Instapaper for the past week on my iPhone 5 and iPad mini running the iOS 7 GM seed. (more…)

From the Instapaper blog:

When the betaworks team sat down with Instapaper’s creator, Marco Arment, back in April to get a download of his ideas and to-dos for improving Instapaper, the first thing on his list was to update the Instapaper website. Well we’ve done it, and it’s now ready for you to check out and test.

Apr
25
2013

Today, Marco Arment announced he’s sold "a majority stake" in Instapaper, his read-later service, to Betaworks. From his personal blog:

I’m happy to announce that I’ve sold a majority stake in Instapaper to Betaworks. We’ve structured the deal with Instapaper’s health and longevity as the top priority, with incentives to keep it going well into the future. I will continue advising the project indefinitely, while Betaworks will take over its operations, expand its staff, and develop it further.

I’ve known Betaworks for years, and I’ve spent a lot of lunches at their office. They have great engineering talent, great product direction, and plenty of experience running services at Instapaper’s scale. I wouldn’t put Instapaper in just anyone’s hands, and I know that they’ll do right by it.

Marco says that Instapaper will live on at Betaworks, and I believe him. I know Marco wouldn’t have sold Instapaper if he didn’t know its new owners would be a great fit. I look forward to the future of Instapaper, but still – the first chapter of Instapaper’s life is closing today.

I could say many things about Instapaper. I could write about the design decisions behind it. I could give you a summary of Instapaper’s updates and why Marco’s vision always struck me as clear, honest, and solid.

Instead, I’ll just link you to my review of Instapaper 4.0 from October 2011. And, in particular, the very first sentence:

Since I started using Instapaper in 2008, this app has changed the way I read.

It may be overused and obvious, but for me Instapaper was the embodiment of the "design is how it works" philosophy: instead of fancy features, Instapaper focused on one thing – text. The reading experience itself was the basis of Instapaper’s design.

I used Instapaper every day, but there’s one episode that I remember in particular. Last summer, I was stuck in a hospital bed for 22 days. I was too tired to work from my iPad, and I didn’t have my MacBook with me. One day when I couldn’t sleep, I launched Instapaper and started reading. Later, I switched to the Friends tab, and saw that some people I followed were saving and sharing old articles of mine. It was a simple thing, but it reminded me of this: in the age of Twitter and real-time trends, Instapaper empowered its users to read at their own pace, with a different experience.

I wrote a quick article that night, and then went back to reading – like many other nights before.

Thank you, Marco, for making Instapaper. Here’s to its next chapter.

quotebook

I am a fan of Lickability's Quotebook, an iOS app to save, organize, and rate quotes. In the past two years, I reviewed both the 1.0 and 2.0 versions here on MacStories, calling Quotebook a “simple and elegant” solution. After reading Sean Korzdorfer's workflow on how to process quotes with Drafts and Pythonista, I realized I wasn't using two obvious iOS services perfectly suited for the job.

I do most of my reading in Mr. Reader, Instapaper, Google Chrome, and The Magazine. When saving a bit of text in Quotebook, I want to be able to send as much information as possible at once: text, author name, and source. Instapaper and Mr. Reader make this easy; I'll save the discussion about tips for Chrome and The Magazine for another article.

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Instapaper Text Bookmarklet As Safari Reader Replacement On Chrome for iOS

Ever since I switched to Chrome as my primary browser on OS X and iOS, several readers asked me if I was missing the Reader functionality of Safari. Not really, because it was an easily fixable problem for me.

I use Instapaper to save articles for later. I like the app and like its text parser. However, few people know that the Instapaper Mobilizer — used by apps like Tweetbot — can also be used as a bookmarklet in any modern browser. Simply head over this page and install the Text bookmarklet; running the bookmarklet on a webpage will display it using Instapaper’s parser, but it won’t add it to your Instapaper account.

When I’m on Chrome for iOS and I stumble across a webpage I want to read without other elements besides text, I type “text” in the address bar and tap the Text bookmarklet (remember, you have to type bookmarklet names in Chrome). The nice thing about the Instapaper bookmarklet is that it’s fast, accurate, and because it returns a regular URL, the Chrome tab showing the parsed text will also be synced back to the desktop.

Last, a quick tip: when reading with Instapaper’s text view, you can tap & hold the top bar showing a webpage’s title to copy its URL (something that Chrome makes ridiculously hard to accomplish).

After Michael Schneider, creator of Read Later, joined the Pocket team to release the official Pocket app for Mac, I wondered if there was a real need for a “read later” (lowercase) application for the desktop:

I’m still not completely sold on the overall concept of a desktop read-later app. I’ve got used to thinking of “read later” as a inherently mobile state of mind. I “catch up” on articles and videos with my iPhone and iPad. The Mac is were I discover stuff. I guess a desktop app can be seen as an add-on, a companion to the main experience.

Looking around for alternatives that would work with the service I use on a daily basis for text articles, Marco Arment’s Instapaper, I was not impressed with Words:

Unfortunately, while promising, Words isn’t there yet. Words looks decent when it’s focused on text (generated by the Instapaper parser) in full-screen mode, but everything else is pretty buggy, unstable, and unfinished.

ReadKit, a new app by Webin released today, is — finally — a solid piece of software for those who have been looking for a desktop version of their favorite read later service. ReadKit, in fact, works with Instapaper, Pocket, and Readability, therefore covering the most popular third-party read later services. The app costs $1.99, and if you want to use it with Instapaper, you’ll need the $1 monthly subscription. (more…)

I’ve already expressed my preference for archiving webpages as PDFs rather than simple “bookmarks” on an online service. When I come across a webpage that I know I want to keep for future reference, I like to generate a clean-looking PDF file with selectable text that I can rely on for years to come.

Lately, I have become obsessed with turning longer articles I find on the Internet also into PDFs for long-term archival. For as much as I like Instapaper, I can’t be sure that the service will be around in the next decades, and I don’t want my archive of longform and quality content to be lost in the cloud. So I have come up with a way to combine Instapaper with the benefit of PDFs, Dropbox, and automation to generate documents off any link or webpage, from any device, within seconds.

Yesterday I put together an iOS and OS X workflow to generate PDFs remotely on my Mac, starting from a simple bookmarklet on iOS. On an iPhone or iPad, I can simply hit a button in Safari, and wait for Pythonista to turn a webpage (that’s already been passed through Instapaper’s text bookmarklet) into an .html file in my Dropbox, which is then converted to PDF and added to Evernote. It sounds complex, but in actual practice I can go from a Safari webpage on iOS to a PDF in the Evernote app in around 30 seconds. Hopefully you’ll find this quick solution useful; feel free to modify it and/or send suggestions. (more…)

Words: Instapaper Client for Mac

Last week, I stumbled across a Mac app called Words, which is a desktop client to access your Instapaper, Pocket, and Readability “read later” lists. Especially following Pocket’s acquisition of Read Later, I thought it was appropriate to post my impressions of the app after using it with my Instapaper account for the past week.

Unfortunately, while promising, Words isn’t there yet. Words looks decent when it’s focused on text (generated by the Instapaper parser) in full-screen mode, but everything else is pretty buggy, unstable, and unfinished. Sync fails often, reporting incosistent errors for actually-correct account information; there are no font options to control the text’s apperance, or keyboard shortcuts to navigate the app; the window’s width can’t be resized (it only supports height), and the sidebar with tags (I assume they are tags, though I never created those) often “gets stuck” on a black background. There are no sharing options, no additional menus, no support for Instapaper’s Archive or Liked items. Just the Unread list, and it doesn’t even work well.

Even Instapaper is spelled as “InstaPaper” in the app.

The Words developers say they’re working on fixes and improvements, and I’m looking forward to trying Words again in the future. But at $5.99, I can’t recommend it right now.