Type of site
|Online bookmarking, saving articles for later reading|
|Owner||Betaworks and Marco Arment|
|Created by||Marco Arment|
|7,121 (March 2015[update])|
Instapaper is a tool for saving web pages to read later on one's Android or iOS device, computer, ereader, or smartphone. The service was founded in 2008 by Marco Arment and had about 2 million users as of late 2011. In 2013, Arment sold a majority stake in Instapaper to Betaworks, where it is now operated.
Instapaper started out as a simple web service, in late 2007, with a "Read Later" bookmarklet and stripped-down "Text" view for articles. When it launched publicly on January 28, 2008, its simplicity rapidly earned accolades from the press, including Daring Fireball and TechCrunch.
Instapaper was known for being profitable and not drawing on investment. While most of the website's features are free, the company generates revenue from the $3.99 iOS app, the $2.99 Android app, and a subscription service for full-text search, API access and other advanced features across the Instapaper website and apps.
To use Instapaper on a computer browser, users drag a special “Read Later” bookmarklet to their browser and click it on the web page of anything they want to save for later. That article gets added to a user's personal unread queue on Instapaper, which they can visit on any device. Every article is automatically reformatted (all excess HTML and graphics are stripped out) leaving nothing but a minimal, readable text layout.
Accounts on the web are free, but to access Instapaper queues offline, many users purchase one of Instapaper's native apps.
Instapaper's free iPhone app (now withdrawn[when?]) with offline reading was one of the first apps in the App Store on July 12, 2008. Instapaper's paid app, then called Instapaper Pro, launched shortly afterward on August 26, 2008 and introduced tilt scrolling, which automatically scrolls a column of text when the iPhone is tilted slightly up or down. The currently available Instapaper app costs $3.99 and works across all iOS devices.
On March 10, 2011, with the launch of the 3.0 app, Instapaper added social sharing and browsing features. Later in 2011, the redesigned 4.0 app added full-text search of all saved articles for customers with the optional $1/month subscription. #
In 2014, with the release of iOS 8, the app was updated with an extension for the built-in iOS Share Sheet, and one for Today View. There is now a text-to-speech function which plays back articles (playlists of articles for subscribers) using speech synthesis. The app is now free, however the subscription cost has risen to $2.99 per month or $29.99 every twelve months.
An automatic send-to-Kindle feature was added on March 8, 2009. The Kindle feature alone is used by over 60,000 Kindle owners as of late 2011. Manually sending individual articles, or digests of recent articles, from the Instapaper app is currently a Subscriber feature.
On June 1, 2008, Instapaper launched Give Me Something to Read, a standalone website that featured a few high-quality, longform, nonfiction articles every day from Instapaper's most frequently saved articles.
Unlike a conventional social news website, which carries stories posted automatically by popularity, Give Me Something to Read is human-edited. Marco Arment was the editor for the site's first year. On July 27, 2009, Arment hired Richard Dunlop-Walters as a part-time contractor to take over as editor. As of March 2011, Dunlop-Walters is Instapaper's only employee besides Arment.
On March 22, 2012, Give Me Something to Read was renamed The Feature. The articles are still hand-picked, and they are featured in Instapaper's website as The Feature, and in the iOS app as the The Feature section.
Competitors and similar services
Instapaper is one of several "read it later" (also known as "read later" or "saving") services. In November 2013, Mashable named Instapaper and the following four clients as the "5 Best Read-It-Later Apps"; they all support a variety of devices and other apps.
- Pocket (originally titled "Read It Later"), began as a Firefox extension in late 2007, similar to Readeroo but using local browser storage, before matching Instapaper's core features later in 2008 and 2009. As of October 2013, it integrated with more than 300 apps, such as Twitter and Flipboard.
- Readability, released in 2009, allows one to share to their social media accounts and easily send articles to their Amazon Kindle. Top Reads displays the most popular Readability articles and is fully integrated with Longform, Pulse, Flipboard, and Twitter clients such as Tweetbot.
- Evernote Clearly, rolled out in 2011, allows users to download articles to the Evernote app as well as to Chrome, Firefox, or Opera; it also works with Evernote Business and in conjunction with the Evernote Web Clipper. Web Clipper works with the aforementioned browsers, as well as Safari and Internet Explorer.
- ReadKit is an app for iOS devices that supports Instapaper, Pocket, and Readability as well as Delicious, Feed Wrangler, FeedBin, Feedly, Fever, NewsBlur, and Pinboard. The app aggregates all of one's content from the abovementioned sources, so one need not switch from one app to another.
Marco Arment observed about The Feature (formerly known as Give Me Something to Read): "The very similar Longform and Longreads both started significantly later than Give Me Something To Read but always got a lot more attention, with Longreads fueled especially by its active Twitter presence. They’ve both done great things, but I always believed that Give Me Something To Read deserved a similar level of attention that it never seemed to achieve."
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