Shane Brady: Instapaper for Android (first look)

Instapaper for Android is out. Here’s our first look.

The new Instapaper for Android brings the popular “read it later” app to the world of Android users. I was skeptical. So I took a first look.

I picked up the new Instapaper Android release as soon as it was out. But it took just a day of use to discover that, while the Android version of Instapaper lacks a few of the high end iOS features, its core experience of letting you mark content for later reading  is completely intact.

Here’s how it works.

To use Instapaper, you first start at a web page you want to read, but don’t have time to right away.  Here is a shot of an article from Sports Illustrated

There are many ways to send web pages to Instapaper, and the Instapaper website lists just about all of them.  As a Chrome user, I’ve been trying out a number of Chrome extensions that send web pages to my account, but I haven’t settled on one yet.  No matter how you send the web page to Instapaper, when you sign into the app on your phone, this is what you’ll see:

Pressing “Read Later” brings up the list of articles:

Right now I have two web pages stored, but right now, I want to read about the MLB draft:

As you can see, all the ads and content not directly related to the article are removed, while Instapaper was able to detect the proper main image to include in the saved article.  Instapaper also supplies guidelines to publishers to help them  properly format articles for use within Instapaper.

Instapaper focuses a lot on the appearance of text to make it easier for people to read.  By pressing on the “aA”, you bring up the following settings screen:

Instapaper provides controls for brightness, font face,  font size, line spacing, and margin with.  Depending on if I’m reading Instapaper on my tablet or phone, I choose different line spacings and font sizes.

One mode I particularly like is what Instapaper calls “Dark Mode”  —  most people would call it “Night Mode”.  It provides white text on black  for those times you want to read in the dark, maybe you want to read while those around you sleep.   For me and my AMOLED phone, white text on black carries the extra benefit of saving you battery life. Black doesn’t require pixel power.

Here is what it looks like in “Dark Mode”

I’ve been using Instapaper for Android a lot in just the one day I’ve had it.  I was curious how it would change my Google Currents reading habits, but I find the two do not overlap.  While Google Currents is how I read my meticulously self-curated RSS feeds, Instapaper fills the gap of keeping track of random web pages that I want to read, but dont’ have time to at the time I discover them.

I read Google Currents mostly on my tablet, but I’m finding myself using my phone for Instapaper.  Marco Arment, creator of Instapaper, has noted that most Instapaper users use it on tablets, which makes me something of an outlier.  That I may be.

Still, not only am I reading more than before, but I’m reading a more eclectic mix of web pages.  Instapaper is not the only “read it later” type app in the Android world, but it’s the one I’m using now. Its core functionality works great and I’m a believer in Instapaper’s continual improvement of this technology.

My recommendation: Even if you’re skeptical, as I was, this app is well worth checking out. Find it at the Google Play Store.

1 Comment

  • I haven’t tried this yet.  I was using Google Currents for a bit, but it was too laggy.  This Instapaper may be the way to go, though. 

    -RAP, II