Instapaper Review

Instapaper Review

Jun 15, 2012

Hell has gone and frozen over, folks. Instapaper is now available on Android. Original developer Marco Arment is a noted Apple developer and commentator, and as he outlined here, the possibility of Instapaper for Android seemed low. Well, after partnering with Mobelux to bring it to Android under a revenue sharing model, so here we go.

What Instapaper does is that it serves as a repository for users to add articles from websites to read later, with the ability to access them from other mobile apps, or from Instapaper.com. Articles can be read in the app’s reformatted view, which takes website content and simplifies it to just the text, to make it easier to read, with various font setting options. It’s also possible to share items via social networks, and to open up articles in the browser.

The first question to answer is that yes, it is possible to sync articles between iOS and Android, as using the same account is possible between platforms, and items synchronize quickly. The app is beautifully designed, with a monochromatic interface and font choices that are aesthetically pleasing. IT’s easy to read articles in its interface.

In some ways, it makes more sense to use Instapaper from Android. It’s easier to share pages without having to install a clunky JavaScript bookmark, just using the built-in Android sharing methods to share pages directly to the app. Mobelux also did a wonderful job with the port, as the app looks and feels exactly like it did on iOS. It’s very tablet-friendly as well.

Here’s the concern I have with Instapaper, particularly in a world of where Pocket is free, and has been around as a multiplatform app for longer. While previous Instapaper users will enjoy getting to use the same service on Android, Pocket offers the same features, along with better handling of multimedia elements. It pretty much comes down to whether users enjoy the option for multimedia viewing, and if they prefer Instapaper‘s readability options over Pocket. But the two apps are so similar that it is hard to recommend someone who is happy with one to shift to the other.

On the other hand, the $2.99 asking price is not expensive in the grand scheme of things, and the app is extremely well-designed. So, for current Instapaper users, or ones who are intrigued by its design, they won’t be disappointed. Pocket users, or cheapskates who don’t want to spend money? If nothing here is intriguing, don’t worry about it. Nothing about this is a slight against Instapaper, who likely had much inspiration on the stylish redesign of Pocket, but it’s just the reality of the market.

The Hills Are Greener: Apple Of My Ire

I came across an interesting graph recently, compiled by Marco Arment, creator of Instapaper. It shows how well Android tablets have sold compared to obscure video game systems, with the iPad’s 30 million units sold not listed “because it distorted the graph’s scale too much.” Now, facts are facts and discussing why Android tablets are so lagging behind the iPad would be an interesting topic to write about sometime. That’s not what fascinates me here, though. Why is it that people are willing to evangelize for Apple’s products, and willing to commit intellectual dishonesty in order to justify it?

The information is clearly presented in a way that is trying to equate Android tablets to these irrelevant platforms of the past; the Virtual Boy isn’t remembered for being a wonderful piece of hardware, after all. Marco Arment is someone who writes about tech and Apple products regularly, and a large part of his business is on iOS; Instapaper is not yet available as an app on Android, after all. The problem is that he’s very much implying that Android tablets are inferior products not because of any actual quality reasons, but because they’re less popular. For someone who seems to use a wide variety of Apple products to make this assertion is absolutely ridiculous and hypocritical. Following the logic here leads to some asinine conclusions I’m sure he and other Apple evangelists would find silly. Many of the best apps on the iOS App Store are not the best sellers. Android sells more phones than Apple does. Heck, I might as well just go ahead and remind everyone that Windows computers still have the leg up on Mac computers; tell a Mac owner that Windows is better because it is more popular might cause a sudden transformation into an abomination from the annals of H.P. Lovecraft’s tomes. Again, the graph is not false; it’s the implication that is dishonest.

Taking this all into account, why should we say that the iPad is a superior product based solely on the fact that it has outsold the 3DO and Android tablets haven’t? Apple products have never been superior due to sales, and their fans have basically preached this line of “quality over quantity (of sales)” for years now; why should we believe these lines now? Facts are facts, but it’s the presentation of the facts here that is intellectually dishonest.I came across an interesting graph recently, compiled by Marco Ament, creator of Instapaper. It shows how well Android tablets have sold compared to obscure video game systems, with the iPad’s 30 million units sold not listed “because it would distort the graph too much.” Now, facts are facts and the numbers are not wrong at all, and discussing why Android tablets are so lagging behind the iPad would be an interesting topic to write about, that’s not what fascinates me. What fascinates me here is just how much people are willing to evangelize for Apple’s products, and willing to commit intellectual dishonesty in order to justify it.

What is it about Apple products that causes this kind of evangelism and intellectual dishonesty? It feels almost religious in nature. Android fans by contrast seem to be the geekier and nerdier types. Sometimes they’re out of touch with the value of user-friendly products (an admitted strength of iOS), but the love of Android’s power and flexibility is always clear and more grounded than the more ethereal worship of ‘design’ that the evangelical Apple lovers seem to share. Android fans can be jerks like iOS ones can, but they do often have technical superiority on their side.

Facts are facts, but the information is clearly presented in a way that is trying to equate Android tablets to these irrelevant platforms of the past; the Virtual Boy isn’t remembered for being a wonderful piece of hardware, after all. It’s just difficult to consider the implications someone like Marco Arment can make and fans of Apple can repeat and just wonder why this hypocrisy exists.