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Reshaping the Night With Instapaper for iPad

Imagine this: it’s 5am in the morning, your wife is sleeping. But you’re awake, and you don’t want to leave the internet as you’ve got some cool conversations going on with your Twitter followers that just can’t be interrupted now, even if your wife is sleeping and you feel a little bit guilty about it. You stayed up until 5am again. Every day, every night, with the usual excuse that you have to work on your website, you decide to avoid the bed and focus on the latest stories from John Gruber instead. You know everything about iPhone multitasking. You got pissed off when that Adobe’s employee published that post against Apple, you installed iPhone OS 4.0 Beta 1 and you watched Twitter’s Chirp live streaming while having a good cup of coffee. You’re an internet guru, but that doesn’t mean you have excuses for staying up all night again, alone in the dark with your glasses shining in the light of your Macbook.

Then one day, completely enlightened, you thought that maybe, just maybe, you should find a productivity purpose for your dirty little AM secret and do something good for yourself instead of faving tweets. Perhaps you should work? No, something more intellectual. Something that requires darkness, a comfortable chair and silence: you realized you can read in those morning hours. A calm, relaxing and stress-free read you’re usually not able to have during the day because everything is too fast, too short. Read can’t happen when writing blog posts. Definitely not.

Maybe it’s time to give Instapaper another spin.

So you’ve installed Instapaper, because you heard that’s the app cool people use to read and archive stuff. I can’t blame you, sir, reading articles using Instapaper is a good experience. And when it comes at late night (very early in the morning, actually) it sorta becomes magical, my good friend Jonathan would say. And when you hold Instapaper for iPad in your hands, that’s when shit gets real. Seriously, I think of all the apps for Instapaper Marco Arment might ever have developed, the iPad version is the one that makes more sense to me. The iPad is meant for reading, and it feels like it was meant for an Instapaper like this to come and change the way you digest web content.

If you’re not familiar with Instapaper at all, sir, it’s that neat web service that allows you to take whichever page you want from the Internet and, through a browser bookmarklet, save it for later into your Instapaper account. You can save any kind of article or tutorials inside it, just be sure to not save YouTube videos of hot chicks. Hell this thing is meant for reading, remember. Anyway, the very cool thing about this service is that you can enable a “parser” in your account preferences that will strip down all the additional content from a web page and present you only the text part, which is what you want to focus on. Typography is beautiful, and Instapaper is the Nirvana of Readability. Indeed I heard of some folks who use Instapaper’s bookmark let after cleaning pages with the actual Readability thing, but that’s another story. To sum up, Instapaper is good and you should try it.

But I assume that you, sir, already know everything about Instapaper. You’re one of those usability geeks who uses it paired with Readability. Yeah, I so understand you - I think it’s great idea too. So you want to know about this iPad app, you want the details. Looking at the big picture, it’s an awesome first attempt. Being geek, I’m telling you this is gonna get better and better with the next updates, just as Marco showed us on Twitter last week. Overall, considering that he built this app and didn’t have a real iPad to test it on, I’m very impressed by the quality of the reading experience and the feel Instapaper for iPad conveys.

The application uses the same scheme of all the other apps we’ve seen up until now and places a sidebar on the left while in landscape mode and the same thing into a popover when you hold your iPad vertically. In this sidebar you’ll be able to access your archive, starred articles, folders. The real deal happens on the right though, ‘cause that’s where the actual Instapaper’d posts are. You can scroll the list to see what’s new and archive directly from the list by simply swiping over a post. Tap one to enter and start reading. But before you do you might want to check out the settings (button in the top bar), where you can customize some important aspects of Instapaper’s behavior. First you have to choose between the light or dark interface: while the light is cleaner, the darker one helps a lot when you read in complete darkness, and it’s easier to the eyes. You can also trigger the location, enable pagination (tap at the bottom or top of a post to scroll the article as if there are pages) and choose whether you’d like the app to refresh articles on launch or not. Speaking of which, refreshing under wifi connection is fast and you can always decide to start reading while the app is fetching your latest entries.

But you, sir, want to know about the reading experience too. I’m telling you it is good, smooth and pleasant. You can choose between three different fonts (Georgia, Verdana and Helvetica), adjust the font sizes and spacing as well. From the article view you can also star posts, read the article in its original view (no formatting), archive it and move it to a folder. The output is elegant and minimal, and I really like the fact that you can customize the appearance the way you want. In my opinion Instapaper for iPad is the best reading experience you can have on this new device right now.

Instapaper for iPad comes a free download if you already have the iPhone “Pro” version, as it’s a universal app. This app has changed my late night reading sessions. Do yourself a favor and go download it.

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