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Posts tagged with "marco arment"

Overcast Review

When I received the first beta of Marco Arment's new app, Overcast, back in May, I didn't think I could use an iPhone-only podcast client with no iPad version and no streaming support as my daily podcast listening solution. Overcast, available today on the App Store, is launching to high expectations and hype for what Arment, best known for creating Instapaper, founding The Magazine, and co-hosting the Accidental Tech Podcast, has been working on since his reveal in September 2013.

Two months after putting Overcast on my Home screen as a vote of confidence and using it to listen to podcasts every day, I don't want to go back to any other podcast app I've tried before. In spite of lacking iPad and OS X versions and some features from popular podcast apps, the listening experience in Overcast and its approach to podcast discovery have been so thoughtfully implemented and cleverly engineered, I find it to be a superior choice for my listening habits.

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Instapaper Acquired By Betaworks

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.


The Magazine 1.1

The Magazine 1.1

Marco Arment shipped today version 1.1 of The Magazine, which I reviewed when it first came out in October:

Marco Arment’s The Magazine falls exactly under this aspect of writing. It’s about people who love technology, delivered as a curated collection of articles from great writers. In a way, it’s the opposite of Instapaper: while Marco’s more popular app is what you make of it, The Magazine is Marco’s own vision. So, yes – you’ll have to trust him on this one.

The Magazine has been growing in terms of quality of content and as an app. Version 1.1 adds new sharing options and a settings window to choose the default browser to open links with -- a design decision that Marco has extensively discussed on his podcast Build and Analyze with Dan Benjamin. Fortunately, the added screen doesn't make the app more complex: The Magazine 1.1 scans for installed third-party browsers and offers a popover (on the iPad) or a new view (on the iPhone) to set the default browser. Safari, Chrome, Opera Mini, iCab Mobile, Grazing, Mercury, Dolphin, and Terra are supported. In the same screen, Marco added buttons to manage subscriptions and read the privacy policy, as well as log out of Instapaper if you've enabled the service.

There are more improvements I like in The Magazine 1.1. The hyperlink popovers now have an icon to share and send an article to Instapaper, but you can also share selected text through the same method. It is a small addition, but I particularly appreciate support for posting to App.net using Netbot and its custom callback protocol: if you send a post to Netbot and hit Cancel in Netbot, you will automatically go back to The Magazine. This system is based on Tapbots' custom protocol for URL callbacks, but it works similarly to x-callback-url, which I'm a big proponent of.

The Magazine 1.1 is now available on the App Store.

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Marco Arment’s The Magazine: At The Intersection of Technology and Writing

When people ask me about my job, I usually reply: “I write about technology”.

Just a little over three years ago, I found myself unemployed, so I started MacStories. It wasn’t easy. Not because of WordPress, FTP, or getting black pixels to appear on a white background. I’ve never had a problem with putting words on a screen.

It wasn’t easy because where I live, a small town in Italy, writing about technology sounds a lot like “I spend my days at home looking at a computer while I drink coffee” . Which, to be fair, is a pretty accurate representation of my daily agenda. But how I do it, and why I do it, and understanding the whole idea of seeing technology as more than a bunch of cables – well, that was the not-so-easy part.

It still is. I know it will be for a long time. And yet I keep typing on this keyboard because I think it’s worth it. I do what I can by writing about my experiences.

Because, hopefully, thanks to technology, our kids will have a better future.

Because twenty years from now, people won’t “find out” they have cancer. They will know in advance, thanks to technology.

That’s quite a goal I, and others like me, are priding ourselves upon, you’d argue, when, effectively, what we do is reviewing apps and reflecting on the latest news. In practical terms, that’s what I do. But I see it as more than that.

Writing is about making connections.

In the past three years, I’ve seen how the great technology writers I look up to are able to make connections between topics and streams of thoughts: they look at the big picture.

On the flip side, technology writing, a scene that’s built on its very distinct and yet cohesive communities, has created connections between people. I wouldn’t have met the MacStories team if it weren’t for writing and following the same writers. I wouldn’t have gotten to know friends like Shawn, Stephen, Gabe, David, Matt, Matthew, Justin, Brett, and many more.

In fact, if it weren’t for this little writing thing of ours, I wouldn’t have met any of you.

Great writing creates connections inside and outside of text.

The Magazine

Marco Arment’s The Magazine falls exactly under this aspect of writing. It’s about people who love technology, delivered as a curated collection of articles from great writers. In a way, it’s the opposite of Instapaper: while Marco’s more popular app is what you make of it, The Magazine is Marco’s own vision. So, yes – you’ll have to trust him on this one.

I’ve never met Marco in real life. We’ve exchanged emails a couple of times and perhaps replied to each other on Twitter. The other day we talked about pears on App.net. But see, the great thing about the Internet is that I genuinely like this guy only because of his work and passion for technology.

I think The Magazine is a promising and notable initiative for a variety of reasons. Firstly, for as much as I praise the tech community, there are aspects of it that I’m not particularly fond of. I don’t like rumors and linkbaity headlines. Sometimes I think that it’s too much when a site tries to tell me everything about a topic with 20 articles. In the words of Marco, The Magazine will take a “a measured approach to the big picture” with “meaningful editorial and big-picture articles”. Or, as Guy English writes in “Fireballed” for the first issue, The Magazine is both old and new. It’s old in that it won’t share the same publication schedule of most blogs; it’s new, because it should encourage writers to create more, new “timeless pieces” based on a business model that their “Fireball Format” website wouldn’t probably allow. I suggest you read Guy’s article in the first issue (there is a free 7-day trial).

I’ve heard from several people who received copies of The Magazine in advance that, in hindsight, the idea is obvious. Get articles from great writers and make an app out of it with new content available periodically. To me, The Magazine seemed “obvious” more because of the technology it’s built with.

Earlier this week I wrote a post on how to hide Newsstand from iOS 6. The Magazine is entirely based on Newsstand, and, a year after the launch of iOS 5, it’s the first app that gives it a purpose, at least for me. Read more


Safari “Reading List” Discovered In Lion, Apple Taking On Instapaper and Readability?

A new feature uncovered in OS X Lion by MacRumors reveals that Apple plans to take on “read it later” services such as ReadItLater, Instapaper and Readability. It has implemented a new bookmarking feature in that latest Lion builds of Safari that Apple is calling the “Reading List” and can be used by users to save pages for later reading. Apple describes it feature saying:

Reading List lets you collect webpages and links for you to read later. To add the current page to your Reading List, click Add Page. You can also Shift-click a link to quickly add it to the list. To hide and show Reading List, click the Reading List icon (eyeglasses) in the bookmarks bar.

The feature is currently hidden away in the latest OS X Lion build and no mention of the feature has yet been made by Apple in any of its announcements or documentation of Lion. One question certainly is about how robust the feature will be and whether it will become a service that synchronises the bookmarks across devices, including mobile devices. Marco Arment, the creator and developer of Instapaper, appears not to be to worrying about it so far and believes that “Instapaper would still have a market even if Apple implemented Reading List synced to iOS devices.”

[Via MacRumors]



Instapaper Developer Explains Why Free Version Is “Taking A Vacation”

Instapaper Developer Explains Why Free Version Is "Taking A Vacation"

In an Apple store, it’s nearly impossible to spend less than $30 on anything. Apple’s stance is clear: “This is how much our stuff costs. If you don’t like our prices, that’s fine. We don’t need everyone to buy our stuff.”

That’s roughly the stance I’ve chosen to take. My app costs $5. I understand that not everyone will like my price, and that’s fine. I don’t need every iOS-device owner to buy my app — I’d do quite well even if only 1% of them did.

Instapaper developer Marco Arment has published an interesting article explaining why he removed the free version of Instapaper for iPhone from the App Store, and he's not planning on making it available again anytime soon. There are thousands of free applications in the App Store: most of them are games from huge companies backed by multi-million investments and funding rounds, some of them are "lite" versions of less popular apps with limited functionalities. For an indie developer like Marco -- remember, he left his position at Tumblr to focus on Instapaper -- choosing to offer different versions of the same app is a difficult decision: what are the features that need to be exclusive to the paid app? And what's a customer supposed to think when he only sees the limited feature set of the lite / free version? More importantly, how many App Store users are going to choose the paid app as the first option when a free counterpart is available?

These are risks only developers who truly believe in their work are willing to take. Marco does, and he's decided to bet on his $5 piece of software because he knows it's a great product that doesn't deserve to be crippled by a free version with less features and ads. Go read the full article here.

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The New Readability Has Ambitious Future

Readability, the Javascript library that stripped websites of unnecessary graphics and elements to provide the user with a simple, easier to read page, has today revealed the next step in it’s future. The ambition plan includes fundamental new advancements including; usage on mobile devices, saving Readability-enhanced pages, social features, a subscription service that supports writers and a partnership with Marco Arment’s Instapaper.

One of the biggest new features of the new Readability is it’s subscription service which is a new model that aims to give back to the writers and publishers that you read from. The subscription starts from $5 but can be as high as you want to pay, and 70% go back to writers and publishers, so obviously the more you pay the more goes back to the content creators. There will still be the basic Readability which does not require a subscription.

Jump the break for full details.

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Instapaper 2.3 Available: Faster, OmniFocus Integration – Simply Better

What I consider the best app currently installed on my iPhone and iPad just got a lot better. With the 2.3 update (which is still propagating in iTunes as I'm writing this) developer Marco Arment introduced so many fixes, refinements, optimizations and new features it's really hard to keep track of them. Instapaper basically got a lot better, both on the iPhone and on the iPad's larger screen (perfect for reading, if you ask me).

You can now send articles to OmniFocus, QuickReader and all the previous sharing options have been fixed to work properly again. The app now also supports a "ihttp://" URL scheme: every time you find something interesting in Safari you want to send to Instapaper (assuming you can't get the other options to work, such as the bookmarklet) just add an "i" before the regular URL and tap Go. Instapaper will open. Genius.

On the iPhone, the article list now includes a few lines of text like on the iPad. iPad updates are faster, I can confirm. The iPhone can now toggle the Dark mode from the font panel, and you can set the app to automatically switch to dark mode at night.

Seriously, you gotta take a look at the changelog yourself (embedded below) and go download Instapaper right now if you still haven't. Highly recommended. Read more