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Friday Favorite: Instapaper for iPhone/iPod touch


Another Friday Favorite, our weekly opportunity to get all sloppy over our most-loved applications.

I'll admit that when I first started trying out Instapaper, as a quick and dirty "bookmark this for later" web service, I didn't see that many advantages to it. There's for bookmarking and Evernote for saving clips and PDFs; NetNewsWire for following my preferred sites... I felt like I had the bases covered. Sure, Instapaper was fast and dead easy (you would expect as much from Marco Ament, lead developer at microblogging service Tumblr), and having a personal 'newspaper' page of items to review at leisure was nice, but nothing earthshaking. Then, wouldn't you know it, everything changed.

The catalyst, of course, was the App Store version of Instapaper Free (since happily upgraded to the $10 Instapaper Pro). Suddenly, with the ability to wirelessly sync my reading list to my iPod touch, I had a two-click process that freed me from my browser for almost anything I wanted to read online. At first, the relationship with Instapaper was tentative; I threw a few NYT articles or TUAW posts-in-progress onto the list, just to see how they looked in the iPod's plain text view (answer: just fine) and how Instapaper cached the full, pictures-included web layout if I needed it.

Over the next few weeks, as my election-commentary addiction reached intervention-worthy levels, Instapaper became my savior. No longer was I locked to a browser tab or to my computer when something intriguing crossed the transom. If it was mostly text: boom! Instapaper's bookmarklet to the rescue. I began diligently syncing Instapaper on my iPod wherever the WiFi permitted (a very quick process) so that I could follow up on my reading list on the subway, in the elevator... wherever and whenever I wanted. It's the low-rent, DIY Kindle and it simply, totally rocks.

Instapaper's current mobile build isn't quite perfect; it switches from portrait to landscape too easily, losing your place in your list (could use a lockout switch) and it has a slight tendency to crash on longer articles. None of that makes me love it any less; with the Pro version's flexible display options and tilt scrolling (I never realized how tired my fingers got with swipe-scrolling on long articles until I enabled the tilt feature and didn't have to swipe any more) I'm satisfied and still eager to see the next version's inevitable improvements. If you're an avid reader of web content and blogs, you owe it to yourself to try Instapaper.

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