A few months ago, Marco Arment sold his breakthrough iOS, Android, and web-based read-it-later service ‘Instapaper’ to Betaworks, Inc. – parent company of other properties like Digg, bitly, and Dots – after he very publicly announced that he just could not maintain it any longer. Betaworks promised to improve and extend Instapaper, and they’ve already started delivering. Earlier today, the company announced a completely redesigned Instapaper Web experience consistent with their excellent mobile apps.
Inspired by the iPad app, Instapaper on the Web now uses a black & white, two-column layout that gives it the look of a native app. The design is simple, responsive, and a significant visual improvement over the archaic old design of the Marco Arment-era.
The left column lets you switch between Unread, Archived, and Liked articles. There’s also a Search option, but it is limited to paying subscribers. If you are looking around for new, long-form articles to read, just go to the Browse section, which lists popular saved articles.
I spend most of my time in the Unread section, so it’s the right column’s design that matters the most. Betaworks’ designers have done a splendid job here. It is a massive improvement over the old Instapaper design, and looks appealing compared to Pocket. Clicking the title takes you the mobilized version of the article, whereas clicking on the URL just below takes you directly to the original page – something you need to use a hack for with Pocket.
The last bit of Instapaper on the Web that has received a UI refresh is the mobilizer for saved articles. With its increased customization options for font, brightness, background color, and margin, Instapaper yet again wins out over Pocket.
The question is: should users of rival read-it-later services Pocket, Evernote Clearly, and Readability consider shifting to Instapaper?
Instapaper mobilizer (top) vs. Pocket (bottom)
For people with dozens of articles saved on other services, the answer is still a big, fat “no!” because Instapaper doesn’t have a simple, one-click import option like Pocket does. I was waiting for the Instapaper web app to be overhauled before jumping back to the service, but there’s just no easy way to go back yet. I have personally emailed the devs about it; hopefully they’ll implement it in the future.
Be sure to let us know what you think of the new Instapaper on the Web by leaving a comment in the comments section below.