THIS WEEK'S SPONSOR:

Kolide

The Fleet Visibility Solution for Mac, Windows, and Linux to Help You Securely Scale Your Business


Instapaper 5.0: Sorting and Filtering Options, Tweaked Interface for iOS 7

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.

In terms of design and overall layout, very few things have changed: the icon has been slightly tweaked, there’s a new splash screen, and the iPhone app has a cleaner main screen. Some of the animations have been reworked, toolbar icons are new, and the Settings’ design has been cleaned up to match the new iOS 7 style. Changes are even harder to spot in the iPad app, which, contrary to recent expectations, hasn’t been redesigned to be similar to Betaworks’ redesign of Instapaper on the web.

To my surprise, Instapaper 5.0 doesn’t implement the new background app refresh feature of iOS 7, as it still relies on a location workaround that Arment implemented last year. According to Betaworks, they’re waiting for user adoption of iOS 7 to increase before adding iOS 7-specific features, but I still think that, like other apps on the App Store this week, they could have supported background app refresh while still keeping a version of the app for iOS 5 and iOS 6 users. Once you’ve experienced the convenience of background app refresh, it’ll be hard to justify its absence in Instapaper 5.0, and I hope that Betaworks will add it as soon as possible.

Aside from localization in 13 languages, improvements to the parser, and a tweaked Sepia theme, Instapaper 5.0 comes with new sorting and filtering abilities, as well as a new tab for videos. Historically, Instapaper never supported videos saved for later as well as Pocket, but Instapaper 5.0 takes some timid steps towards what could become deeper integration with Vimeo and YouTube. There’s still no custom player, but videos get better inline previews and they can be watched in a separate area of the app.

Personally, I find the new sorting and filtering options more intriguing. Articles can be filtered by reading time through a button available at the top of the Read Later screen, which provides a convenient solution to quickly find articles that take less than 5 minutes or over an hour to read. Next to the Filter button there’s Sort, which lets you change the sorting of items from the traditional reverse chronological one to oldest, shortest, shuffle mode, and – my favorite – “Popularity”. I’ve always advocated for better ways to discover content to read within Instapaper’s network of users, and I like the possible path that Betaworks may take here: when you’re sorting by popularity, Instapaper 5.0 will switch the order of articles to give you the ones that are most popular on its network. This is an interesting way to think about reading priority and the Instapaper community, and it’s proof of Betaworks’ experience with news aggregation.

Instapaper 5.0 doesn’t revolutionize Instapaper 4.0, and it’s a good thing that Betaworks is offering it as a free update from Instapaper 4.0. The basics of the app are still here and the design has been polished a little bit, but, overall, it’s still the Instapaper that Arment developed and that you probably know and love. This is no major rewrite of the app from the ground up, as Betaworks has been clearly busy in doing that for the web counterpart. It’s nice to have Instapaper ready for iOS 7 today, but I would have liked to see support for new features like background app refresh and Dynamic Type.

Instapaper 5.0 is available on the App Store.

Unlock More with Club MacStories

Founded in 2015, Club MacStories has delivered exclusive content every week for over six years.

In that time, members have enjoyed nearly 400 weekly and monthly newsletters packed with more of your favorite MacStories writing as well as Club-only podcasts, eBooks, discounts on apps, icons, and services. Join today, and you’ll get everything new that we publish every week, plus access to our entire archive of back issues and downloadable perks.

The Club expanded in 2021 with Club MacStories+ and Club Premier. Club MacStories+ members enjoy even more exclusive stories, a vibrant Discord community, a rotating roster of app discounts, and more. And, with Club Premier, you get everything we offer at every Club level plus an extended, ad-free version of our podcast AppStories that is delivered early each week in high-bitrate audio.

Choose the Club plan that’s right for you:

  • Club MacStories: Weekly and monthly newsletters via email and the web that are brimming with app collections, tips, automation workflows, longform writing, a Club-only podcast, periodic giveaways, and more;
  • Club MacStories+: Everything that Club MacStories offers, plus exclusive content like Federico’s Automation Academy and John’s Macintosh Desktop Experience, a powerful web app for searching and exploring over 6 years of content and creating custom RSS feeds of Club content, an active Discord community, and a rotating collection of discounts, and more;
  • Club Premier: Everything in from our other plans and AppStories+, an extended version of our flagship podcast that’s delivered early, ad-free, and in high-bitrate audio.