There are a lot of good RSS readers on iOS that are continually being updated with new features and other improvements. It’s a competitive category, and Fiery Feeds, which is one of my favorites, was just updated with a focus on design and new ways to filter the feeds you follow.
Posts tagged with "read it later"
When Instapaper Premium was introduced, it was a paid subscription that added several advanced features to the service. Later, the app and service were purchased by Pinterest, and Instapaper Premium was made available for free to all users.
Last month, Instapaper announced that it was separating from Pinterest and becoming an independent company. Today Instapaper, which turned 10 years old this year, outlined a plan for sustaining the service for the next 10 years. At the heart of Instapaper’s plan is a return to a paid subscription model. Premium features – full-text search, unlimited notes, text-to-speech playlists on mobile devices, speed reading functionality, removal of ads on the web, and the ability to send articles to Amazon’s Kindle reader – will only be available going forward for a $2.99/month or $29.99/year subscription. Currently, subscriptions are available via the web only, but the company plans to add an In-App Purchase to the app in the future.
Instapaper also announced that it is returning to the European Union. When the EU’s GDPR legislation became effective at the end of May, Instapaper wasn’t ready and blocked access to EU citizens. As an apology for the extended downtime, Instapaper is providing its premium service to EU users for six months.
I recently switched back to Instapaper from Pocket because I was encouraged by its new independence from Pinterest, where the app got little attention over the past two years. With no new features added to Instapaper Premium as part of its relaunch as a paid subscription, convincing users to sign up may be difficult. It’s still early days in Instapaper’s newfound independence though, so I remain optimistic that there’s more to come from the Instapaper team, and I plan to stick with the app as my read-it-later service for the foreseeable future.
Instapaper is available as a free download on the App Store.
Today, we’re announcing that Pinterest has entered into an agreement to transfer ownership of Instapaper to Instant Paper, Inc., a new company owned and operated by the same people who’ve been working on Instapaper since it was sold to betaworks by Marco Arment in 2013. The ownership transfer will occur after a 21 day waiting period designed to give our users fair notice about the change of control with respect to their personal information.
We want to emphasize that not much is changing for the Instapaper product outside the new ownership. The product will continue to be built and maintained by the same people who’ve been working on Instapaper for the past five years. We plan to continue offering a robust service that focuses on readers and the reading experience for the foreseeable future.
Following Pinterest's acquisition of Instapaper almost two years ago, there was a reasonable level of concern about what that change would mean for the popular read-it-later service. From an outside perspective, however, it seems like the transition has gone smoothly – which makes today's announcement all the more surprising.
It will be interesting to see what changes this move brings in the short-term. In the immediate future, the company has already confirmed it's working hard on making Instapaper available in Europe again. Looking further out, the service's business model is a big question mark. Before Pinterest came along, Instapaper offered a premium subscription option that was later discontinued post-acquisition and its features made publicly available to all users. A new subscription plan may be in the works, likely with currently unannounced new features. Only time will tell what the future holds, but in any case, it's always nice to see an app's development team in full control of its product's destiny.
Following a massive 4.0 update that saw Read It Later turn into Pocket (our review), founder Nate Weiner told us the new platform they had built would allow them to "iterate and move faster than ever before". Less than a month after Pocket's launch, a major 4.1 update has been released today, bringing some new features and several refinements to the app that wants to make "save for later" mainstream.
In my original review, I noted how there was no way to manually add links into Pocket, either with a "+" button or through automatic clipboard detection for URLs, like Instapaper does. Pocket 4.1 introduces a subtle, good-looking dialog for added URLs that gracefully slides up from the bottom of the screen every time you launch Pocket with a URL available in the iOS clipboard. I still think Pocket should also have a manual button to enter new URLs, but the addition of clipboard integration improved my app-switching workflow nevertheless.
The most important changes in Pocket 4.1 are visual, as the app adds a bunch of new options to customize the look of the reading view and improve readability in different settings. New dark and sepia themes focus on high-contrast reading, and an application-wide dark option has also been enabled to make the UI easier on the eye for those who like to use Pocket at night. I like the new dark theme, as it really helps in navigating the inbox when I'm using Pocket while my girlfriend is sleeping and I don't want to wake her with my iPhone's display. Plus, the overall design of the theme is reminiscent of the old Read It Later in some way, which is a nice cameo. I am no fan of Sepia, but I guess it's good to have options.
In the reading view itself, the Pocket team increased the maximum font size supported by the app -- good for visually impaired users -- and created a new pagination mode that lets you conveniently read long articles as single pages. Switching between "classic mode" and pagination isn't a setting -- rather, you can activate "page flipping", as the team calls it, by swiping left or right on screen. The effect is pleasant, responsive, but I prefer to read my articles as #longreads I can scroll.
A minor change that I am deeply enjoying in version 4.1 is support for Devour and TED. For those not familiar with Devour, it is a website that collects "awesome videos" from YouTube every day, embedding them in a clean, neatly designed layout that is easy and fun to browse every day. Pocket 4.1 saves Devour.com URLs as video thumbnails, which support the fancy video player introduced in version 4.0.
Pocket 4.0 was a great app, but the improvements made to the service lately and this new version have turned the product into an experience that fits my reading and watching habits even more. You can find Pocket 4.1 on the App Store.
I recently had the chance to talk with Nate Weiner, the creator of Read It Later, to discuss today's launch of Pocket (here's my review), the state of "read later" apps and reading on the web, and the direction Pocket is taking in enabling users to save their favorite content. Nate Weiner had the idea for Read It Later in 2007, when he found out he was constantly emailing links to himself for articles he wanted to read later. After five years, Read It Later is reborn today as Pocket.
MacStories: Looking back at my Purchased history on the App Store, I see the original Read It Later is the third app I installed on my iPhone. How has Read It Later changed in the past three years, leading to Pocket, launching today?
Nate Weiner: Was it really? That is awesome.
A lot has changed since then. When I launched the first iPhone app for Read It Later, I was just a solo developer working out of my bedroom in Minnesota. Today, I'm sitting in Read It Later's office in downtown San Francisco alongside 7 other incredibly talented people.
What hasn't changed is our focus. Read It Later was a simple tool that focused on doing just one thing: saving things for later. Pocket is about taking all of the core parts of what people did with Read It Later and making them better, easier, and quite honestly, just a lot more fun to use.
In the past five years, reading on the web has fundamentally changed. Read It Later, the first popular service to pioneer a certain kind of "bookmarking" for web articles, is reborn today as Pocket, and it promises to change the way users think of web content to "save for later". Most importantly, Pocket wants to address what has become the scarcest resource of web citizens: time.
People never had time to check out all the cool stuff that happens on the Internet every day. As blogging platforms started taking off in the past decade, sometime during 2006 some people began to realize they didn't have time to read every article that was posted online. The digital publishing revolution had already happened, but the explosion of blogging was just starting to produce high-quality, journalistic and well-informed pieces that, due to a simple scarcity of time and intuitive tools, people didn't have time to read in their entirety. Whilst the act of "bookmarking" something on the Internet goes back to several years ago, the more focused, practical act of "saving an article for later" can actually be traced back in the form of popular consumer software to somewhere in between late 2006 and 2007.
Nate Weiner was one of the first developers (and avid web readers) to understand that the bookmarking systems in place at the time (Delicious, magnolia, or simple browser bookmarks) weren't cutting it, from a technical and psychological perspective, for those users that just wanted to put off an article for later.
The difference between "bookmarking" and "saving for later" is both practical and conceptual: a regular bookmark is usually archived for good, as bookmarking services place great emphasis on letting users store bookmarks -- links to webpages -- forever in their accounts. There are some exceptions today, but the underlying philosophy has pretty much stayed the same. The action of "saving an article for later", on the other hand, takes a more pragmatical approach: an article a user wants to read today or tomorrow isn't necessarily representative of a webpage he wants to store and archive for eternity. The terminology itself -- "for later" -- indicates that something is going to happen "later". Once an article is read, most users tend to go on with their lives and forget about it. Like I said, it's different today, and there are some specific use cases in which someone might want to archive articles -- but the original concept lives on. People don't have time to read every web article ever published.
Back in 2007, Nate Weiner set out to create a simple Firefox extension that would allow him to keep articles he found at work (and wanted to "read later") in a different place than its browser bookmarks. On August 6, 2007, he launched the aptly-named Read It Later, a Firefox extension that did one thing well: it kept articles in a cozy little extension, saved for later. Users could hit a button to quickly save an article, and they could even save multiple browser tabs at once. As the extension started taking off, Nate began adding more features to Read It Later, such as offline support in December 2007.
Meanwhile, Marco Arment, developer at Tumblr, was facing a similar problem himself in 2007. He was constantly coming across news or blog articles he didn't have time to read at the moment, and he needed something to read while on the bus or waiting in line. Arment discovered that there was no easy way to save links from a computer and access them later from the iPhone -- we're talking mid-2007 here, when the iPhone was getting in the hands of the first millions of customers, and when there was no SDK for developers to build native apps. So Arment decided, as he would later explain, to build just the service for that: Instapaper, a webpage that collected links saved from a bookmarklet, was launched publicly in January 2008. Like Read It Later, Instapaper solved a twofold issue: it allowed users to quickly save articles, and retrieve them later. Unlike Weiner's app, though, Instapaper saved links in a webpage that could be easily accessed from the iPhone -- mobile reading, in fact, seemed to be one of Instapaper's primary features from the get-go. As Arment's service became popular, he also went back to the drawing board -- or in his case, programming tools -- to implement new functionalities for Instapaper. The service's hallmark feature, a text mode that strips unnecessary content out of web articles, was released in April 2008.
The rest is history. As Apple kept improving its mobile ecosystem with new devices, OS upgrades, and the App Store, Read It Later and Instapaper evolved, and iteratively became two fantastic services that serve millions of users every month. Over the years, we have followed both Instapaper and Read It Later closely at MacStories.
If you like to read Instapaper and Read It Later on your desktop through your web browser, why not give the second iteration of ReadNow a try? No longer a menubar application, ReadNow 2.0 was built from the ground up to feel like a native OS X application from the start. Based on traditional RSS apps, ReadNow organizes your Instapaper and Read it Later articles for offline access, optimizing articles for a cleaner reading experience on your Mac. ReadNow features a custom article view that let's you style the article, change the line height and article width, and customize the font. Archiving and liking articles in the app will push those changes to the respective service in realtime. Unlike your favorite iOS apps, ReadNow lets you drag and drop articles into folders and tags to quickly move them from the reading list. You can currently share articles you find interesting to Twitter, Facebook, Pinboard, Delicious and Evernote from within the app. With support for multitouch gestures, search, and tag and folder management, ReadNow gives you access to Instapaper and Read It Later in one easy-to-use application.
RSS users who live inside the Pulse ecosystem are getting a boost this afternoon in collecting articles to read later. Pulse has unveiled Pulse.me, which is a brand new web component that allows you to save a story from Pulse on your iPhone or iPad, then read it later at your office desk or during a coffee break. I love the idea of not extending the read-it-later schema off of Pulse: you simply have to star the article to continue reading it later.
Pulse.me integrates with your Pulse account or Facebook login, making sign-up relatively painless. Because stories are saved on the web, you can return to your reading list on your iPhone, your iPad, your Android smartphone or tablet, and even your desktop for a consistent experience. If you choose not to use Pulse, they’ve included Instapaper, Read It Later, Google Reader integration, and Evernote support so stories can be read in multiple places. These services work simultaneously with Pulse, meaning if you star an article for Pulse.me, it will star the article in your Google Reader account as well.
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.”