A few weeks ago I decided to give Instapaper a try. I really wanted to like it — it’d be heartwarming if a sole developer could create a polished product and make a sustainable business out of it. Although I’m convinced that Marco is doing well financially, his product is far from being polished. In my three weeks with Instapaper I was mostly annoyed and often forced to switch back to Readability due to Instapaper’s parsing problems.
I gathered here a list of pros and cons of each service.
- payed app
- optional “oldest first” ordering
- grid view on iPad
- frequent crashes (initially on an iPad I was experiencing one crash every two/three articles)
- confusing UI that requires too many taps
- too many settings
- crappy parser (missing paragraphs, images, etc.)
- broken links in Wikipedia articles
- bugs (sometimes I can’t archive an article in the grid view, but I can in the article view)
- no support for “browse the web and quickly make a page readable” workflow (try to read Programming in Lua…)
- support for only one device orientation (especially annoying when you’re using an iPad upside down because it’s charging)
- good parser
- aesthetic design
- intuitive gestures
- official Chrome Extension
- free app (you are the product)
- occasional sync problems (that can be fixed by re-downloading articles)
Update • 2015-06-26
About two weeks ago I switched from Readability to Instapaper because of the following reasons:
- Readability’s sync is slow and unreliable.
- There’s an annoying visual bug after switching between portrait and landscape orientations on an iPad.
- It looks like an abandonware: the last minor app update was on 2014-10-24 and the last post on their blog is from 2014-01-23.
- Marco sold Instapaper a month after my post. It’s become a better product in the last two years. I like it.