Marco Arment on what Safari Reading List means for Instapaper

Marco Arment on what Safari Reading List means for Instapaper

By building Safari Reading List and Safari Reader into iOS 5 Safari -- much as they've built them into OS X Lion -- Apple provides a similar uncluttered reading and sync service to Marco Arment's well known Instapaper app. Arment isn't raging however. In fact, he's a little excited.

When iOS 5 and Lion ship, Apple will show a much larger percentage of iOS-device owners that saving web pages to read later is a useful workflow and can dramatically improve the way they read.

If Reading List gets widely adopted and millions of people start saving pages for later reading, a portion of those people will be interested in upgrading to a dedicated, deluxe app and service to serve their needs better. And they’ll quickly find Instapaper in the App Store.

Apple took over the low end of a lot of app categories during Monday's WWDC 2011 iOS 5 unveiling. Notifications, Reminders, and Reading List will make it difficult to sell basic notification apps, to do apps, and read-it-later apps. Anyone with free version that offer limited functionality are likely done.

But Arment has a point. LockInfo is more powerful than Apple's Notifications, Appigo Todo and OmniFocus blow away Reminders, and Instapaper does far more than Reading List. For power users, they likely still have their place.

Any Instapaper users planning on giving it up?


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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Marco Arment on what Safari Reading List means for Instapaper


Yep, I'll be glad to give it up. I haven't liked Marco's attitude lately much either. Sure, the new Apple features/apps will provide greater exposure in these areas, but not that many people need or want the power and expense. They may gain a few more power users, but they'll lose a lot more average users. Marco is trying to spin it as a good thing for him, but it isn't.

I think I will definitely use Reading List... but as of right now it doesn't cache, so Instapaper will still be my app of choice.

I've been very happy with Instapaper. I don't consider myself an Instapaper power-user, but I already use more than the basics that Apple will be providing.

I used Instapaper and Read It Later for a little while, but couldn't be bothered shortly after. The same with 'to do' apps.
With totally baked-in(if a little basic) solutions, I can see myself using Reader all the time. Funny how that works.

You're statement is exactly how I believe it will play out. I imagine only a small percentage of ios users use either Instapaper/Read it Later/Todo etc. (I am a heavy user of all myself) However once Apple releases Reading list and Reminders, the more typical users will be exposed and the services will be "good enough". The other services mentioned will remain for power users, while the majority will use Apple's.

I didn't see any mention if there is an API for developers to hook into Safari Reading List. If not then its pretty useless for me as most of my Instapaper saved articles come from third party apps, Reeder, Twitter apps, IE bookmarklet when I'm at work (I know, IE.. shudder)So I will still be using Instapaper.

Agreed. I will keep using Instapaper. 95% of my "read later" items are sent from the bookmarklet while browsing or google reader at work, or Reeder, Tweeetbot, Zite, other apps on my iPhone / iPad. I then read everything on my iOS device through the dedicated Instapaper app. I rarely, if ever, do random browsing on my iOS devices. And even when browsing on my iMac at home, the bookmarklet is just too easy. I can't see using both Instapaper and Apple's service, so I'll continue to use only Instapaper. 
On the flip side, as for the wife or friends that currently don't use a read it later service, I can see where the basic options of Apple's service will suffice. But I could also see them maybe wanting more options then adding just from Safari once they are introduced to it i.e. sending from twitter apps. Time will tell I guess. 

I'll gladly dump remember the milk. their price for sync are silly high and they have minimal functionality anyway. They just started proving a real mac client and sync anyway.

I'm a big fan of Instapaer but lets get real. The idea of saving web pages for later reading is not exactly new. Not at all and Marco acts like he invented the concept. I do expect this will be good for Instapaper though in the same way that RSS reading in Safari has been good for newsreaders. it will introduce more people to Instapaper which only has about 1% of the potential Mac audience now.

I use Evernote for some things, but web clipping is not an option within apps (e.g. Twitter, most rss apps), nor does it work (AFAIK) work within google reader's web view (where Instapaper's bookmarklet has precisely nailed a fast, efficient user experience).

Marco is a rock star developer. He'll be onto something else soon, and then Apple can steal that in two years.

I prefer Read It Later to Instapaper, and since Apple's implementation will only work in Safari I won;t be switching any time soon.
I do buy Marco's argument that this could be good for his app though... when the Apple TV came out and made more people aware of TV streaming (it's easy to forgot that most people don't know much about these types of things) the Roku boxes sales immediately went up.

I read almost all web content offline using Instapaper on two iOS devices. Flow is usually from RSS Reader (Byline) or Twitter client to Instapaper. Very seldom from Safari. Then I read in Instapaper and either delete or send from Instapaper to Appigo ToDo, Evernote, Appigo Notebook, or e-mail. I love the integration of Instapaper with my other apps and with other platforms and devices and won't stop using it. But I think casual users will be happy with the new Safari feature, and I doubt it will turn them into Instapaper users.

I use Instapaper extensively, but have been quite disappointed with the last few updates. They keep adding stuff that makes it complicated. I liked it because it was simple, now it has all kinds of garbage about social integration and stuff cluttering up the screens and you can't tell if you have read an article or not.
I will gladly switch to safari for reading articles if it is just simple and just works. I will probably continue to use instapaper to mark articles for later use on my PC, but that doesn't happen much anymore because I mostly use my iPad for browsing now.

I won't be giving up ReadItLater! Among other advantages is integration into Google Reader on Firefox, and [as Instapaper has] access from anywhere (not just iOS devices). Also a dizzying number of sharing options, and a thoughtful option to have only non-tagged items show in the main reading list (so I can read things having to do with certain subjects only when in the mood!)

I have a question about the Reader in iOS 5: I noticed that while you're in the Reader you can change the font size, but does anyone know if you can also change the font itself? I'd like to use a different font other than the one shown.

I won't be giving up on read it later. I for one try to never read stuff on safari, I love apps. If this website had one I would use it too. The engadget app, NYT app, and others all have some sort of save to later functions and all have offline reading and better ui than their online counterparts. Unless we will be able to use apples service in apps, the app owners have nothing to be afraid of.

Sometimes English can drive you crazy.I saw The News Makers of iPhone Rivals Don?t Want to Hearand read it as The [News Makers] of iPhone...and it made no sense.I had to back up and re-read it.Not your fault, but the fault of the lguanage. Reply:September 23rd, 2011 at 7:35 AM, I know it's ambiguous, but it's also true. I kinda expected some readers to have to look twice. Peace,Gene