Probably the best and most unexpected benefit which we at TechNorms have enjoyed from owning a smartphone and a tablet is the ability to read more. When we bought both devices, they looked great for a whole mess of other reasons. To be honest, we never really thought about using a smart device for reading. In our defense, it’s not like tech advertisements say “Try the all new iPad. It’s great for reading stuff!”
However, once we got them, it was like a reading extravaganza, especially with the iPad. One of the most helpful apps for reading on iPad was Instapaper. Most of our readers have probably heard of the award-winning, massively successful, and TechNorms favorite app that has been so successful over on iOS. It’s been around for a while… but only on iOS until recently. Creator Marcos Arment licensed out the port to another developer to finally create an official port of Instapaper for Android users. Before now, we’ve had to deal with off-brand version like Read It Later (now known as Pocket). It was a decent app, but far from the real thing. Here’s why Instapaper is worth buying on Android.
What is Instapaper?
For our readers who might not have heard of Instapaper before (both of you), we’ll summarize. The core idea is that you can select web pages and save them for offline browsing. It’s really a neat system, especially since you can save articles from just about any device with a web browser.
Granted, offline reading isn’t as impressive on our Android phone that has a constant data connection, but Instapaper is an absolute godsend on our WiFi-only iPad. This app is beautiful and perfect for traveling when you might not have internet access. If you’re traveling by plane, then you wouldn’t even have data.
You can save whatever articles you’d like to Instapaper, although most people opt for saving longer pieces. Our go-to site for awesome and very long articles is TheFeature.net, a service that collects the best pieces of long-form journalism.
We recommend regular visits to The Feature for reading materials, as its articles are absolutely superb. They collect material from some of the best English-language publications out there like The New Yorker, Diablo, New York Magazine, The Awl, Slate, The Atlantic, Wired and Vanity Fair. The articles tend to be long, highly intellectual, and utterly fascinating. Seriously, we cannot recommend this site highly enough.
How’s the Android version look?
We were a little afraid to try the Android version when we heard that an outside company and not the original creator ported the app from iOS. It all sounded like a recipe for a poorly coded bone thrown to appease Android fanboys.
Thankfully, the Instapaper Android app is nothing like that. It’s actually pretty awesome. We came away from our time in Instapaper for Android feeling relieved and impressed. From top to bottom, the app is thoroughly well designed. This is clearly no quick port. The developers rebuilt Instapaper from the ground up for Android into a genuinely impressive app.
The first thing to catch our eye is the user interface. Far from being a copy-and-paste job from iOS, Instapaper for Android is made according to traditional Android design styles. More importantly, the UI is easy to use. We had no issue finding and using all of the configuration options.
Read It The Way You Want
Speaking of configuration options, Instapaper for Android impresses with a whole mess of options to optimize your reading experience. Just open any article you’ve downloaded and tap the Menu key on your phone.
There are options for the font, font size, spacing between lines, and margins. We didn’t really feel the need to adjust the any of these, though. The default font and font size look so nice that we didn’t feel the need to change anything.
The articles looked very nice after their transition from the web to Instapaper. Using pieces chosen by The Feature, we didn’t see any weird formatting issues or strange links. Reading saved webpages looks nice and is super easy.
There are also features intended for those reading at night time. You can manually enable night mode (white text on a black background) or set it to change automatically based on the time of day. Brightness is adjustable in-app as well. With all those options, reading past bedtime should be no issue.
For completeness’ sake, the developers also threw in folders for your articles, a rotation lock, and the ability to share articles with any app that has the capability to “share” things. Due to how Android is set up on a technical level, Instapaper for Android works with every app that can share things with no extra work needed from the developers.
Instapaper for Android does not really tell you everything you need to do in order to set up your phone, so we’ve included some helpful instructions. The first order of business for using Instapaper is to sign up for an account. This is easy, just go to their website.
Having an account is necessary to sync your articles across all devices which use Instapaper. The service even keeps track of where you left off while reading articles. When we opened a piece about B.F. Skinner that we never finished reading, the app took us all the way down the page to where we’d stopped reading… the day before on our iPad. Well played, Instapaper.
Once that’s installed, you can save pages from your phone. Just navigate to the page intended for saving and open the Read Later bookmark. It’ll do its thing. Congrats, that’s it.
Is Instapaper Android App Worth Buying?
Instapaper honestly hasn’t changed that much in its transition to Android. That’s a good thing, as it was a hell of an app on iOS. We’re just happy to have Instapaper on another device (and not just our iPad).
The only feature that didn’t make the journey from iOS is a built-in link to TheFeature.net. This isn’t a big deal, though, as you can still save articles manually from The Feature in a web browser. Other than that, Instapaper for Android is another great way to enjoy a great service.