‘Instapaper’ Gets Major Update with Revised Interface, New Features

Marco Arment, an iOS developer and founder of Tumblr, announced the release of a major update his Instapaper app yesterday. Instapaper lets you save web articles to read later, presenting content in a more streamlined format for easier reading.

Instapaper 4.0 brings a revised interface to the iPad and iPhone and several other new features to improve navigation and ease of use. The extensive list of what’s new is as follows:

  • Completely redesigned iPad list interface as a grid with sidebar
  • Redesigned iPhone interface with a black-and-white theme
  • Multi-select articles in list to archive, delete, or move in bulk
  • Search Subscription: the $1/month Subscription from the Instapaper website is now available in the app via In-App Purchase. It’s called Search Subscription, and it adds server-side searching of the *full contents* of every article you’ve ever saved. This replaces the old downloaded-articles-only search in the app.
  • Archive and Delete now peacefully coexist everywhere
  • App Directory (in Settings) lists apps that integrate with Instapaper
  • Hardware brightness control in iOS 5 (brightness now also available on iPhone)
  • Draggable scrollbar for quickly jumping through documents
  • Article authors, published dates, and site titles are now displayed when available (availability will increase over time)
  • “Friends” section can now browse all recent links posted in your Facebook news feed, Twitter timeline, and Tumblr Dashboard
  • “Editors” is now fully intergrated and sourced exclusively from Give Me Something To Read
  • New settings to customize number of Liked/Archive articles stored on device
  • Wikipedia lookups added to newly redesigned “Define” popups
  • Footnotes are converted to inline “…” buttons that display in popovers
  • [iPhone] Option to hide the status bar while reading (hidden by default)
  • [iPhone] Redesigned font (ᴀA) panel to be like iPad’s
  • [iPhone] Redesigned Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Pinboard, Evernote share forms
  • YouTube URLs now open in the system’s YouTube app
  • New option to use Apple’s dictionary under iOS 5
  • Minor improvements to the in-article styling
  • Smoother tilt scrolling that works well in all orientations
  • New icon
  • Added Tweetbot and The Hit List to Share panel
  • When updating, the entire table no longer reloads after each article downloads. It now just reloads once after the main update request, showing all (even un-downloaded) articles, and they enable themselves as they get downloaded.

Instapaper is one of my favorite apps and lives on the first page of my iPad’s home screen. I often come across articles I’d like to read while I’m working but don’t have time to do so immediately, and Instapaper is invaluable in saving these quickly and easily. Instapaper works with a bookmarklet for your computer’s web browser (see this page to add it to your browser) and will sync automatically with the app on the iPad and iPhone once you’re logged in.

Instapaper can also be handy if you’re traveling and will be offline for some time and want some reading to fill that time – all you need to do is open the Instapaper app while you still have an internet connection and it will update and load all of your saved articles so you can read them when you no longer have an internet connection.

More than 100 iOS apps support saving articles directly to Instapaper – you can find a full list of them here (scroll to the bottom).

The web-based Instapaper service is free to use while the universal app costs $4.99. If you want to support Instapaper more, you can purchase a subscription that costs just $3 every three months (effectively $1 per month). You can find more information about the subscription option here. I have a subscription, primarily to support the service since it’s one I use almost every single day.



Last Changed: 13 weeks ago
Rating: 4.50 (85)
Version: 7.5.2
iOS Universal

Instapaper is the simplest way to save and store articles for reading: offline, on-the-go, anytime, anywhere, perfectly formatted. Instapaper for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch provides a...


One Comment


This update is a total disappointment and a step backward. The key changes are (i) change in interface; (ii) search no longer free but against a fee; and (iii) increased social features.
– Re (i) the new interface is much harder to read and scroll through as the old list view. Space for the articles is reduced because of a larger toolbar that now remains always in sight.
– Re (ii) the old search function was working fine for me. I don’t need full text search. If it was to be offered against a fee, it should be optional, not by removing the old functionality. I appreciate that Instapaper wants to charge and make money – but I also paid for the app in the first place to get some basic functionality, and this is now removed and instead replaced with another fee based service. Though the amount is small, it makes me quite upset.
– Re (iii) I don’t really need or want further social features – at least not all over the place. If they are offered, they should be non-obstrusive. Right now they stick in your face whereever you go. I want a reader, not a sharing tool. (There are plenty of other apps around to do this, and Instapaper should better focus on its core functionality).

IN CONCLUSION, Instapaper is losing its way. Luckily, I kept a backup of my older version and was able to revert back to it. But unless the old features are brought back (at least as options), in particular list view and basic search for free, I cannot update anymore. Luckiiy, the old version keeps on working fine (for now) even it it has room for improvement. (Scrollbars, improved delete and sharing functionality as now introduced are some of them, but this is more then offset by the negative changes in the new version).
I guess I now have to start looking at some of the alternatives around, and eventually switch over. Instapaper continues to be a good service, but its app no longer is. Really really sad….

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