Instapaper Yet To Fulfil Potential

Instapaper, for those who haven’t come across it, is a web-based bookmarking application. It is used for saving articles to read later, either through via the web app or via your mobile device.

Having used it for over two years now, it is a shame to say it hasn’t progressed greatly in that time. The various methods of bookmarking articles are fantastic and ever expanding. Whether hitting a bookmark link in Safari, tapping ‘Read Later’ in Twitter on your iPhone or saving from Google Reader, saving an article to Instapaper is never more than one click away.

The problems though are with reading the articles you’ve saved. The iPhone/iPad app works perfectly when you are on the go, but if you are on a desktop/laptop your options are far more limited. Here lies Instapaper’s two main issues:

  1. The website is seriously ugly/clunky.

Unfortunately the aesthetics of the Instapaper website aren’t the best, in fact the general mass of grey far less than pleasing on the eye. Add to this a monotonous list of articles and you get a very clunky result. There is a folder system that allows you to sort your articles, but this involves scrolling down to find the list on the right of the page, and simply segregates the problem of the endless list of articles rather than solving it. The lack of a search system makes finding that elusive article you saved a few weeks ago all that much harder. There are third-party solutions in the form of extensions for Chrome and Safari that help ease the pain, but they certainly aren’t the ideal solution.

  1. There are no desktop clients available.

Of course, building a beautiful, fully-functional web app isn’t an easy task, in fact it would be much easier to do as a desktop application. Unfortunately, none exist. Again, there are options – especially on the Mac with Fluid – but since the demise of Instapaper Restyled when Instapaper changed their source code, the options are few and far between.

There is no doubt Instapaper is still a valuable resource, but you can’t help but feel it’s got so much potential than it’s realised.