This week in Noah’s Tool Belt I’m going to tell you about a tool I use everyday. It’s a free web based service with iPhone and iPad apps for mobile use. It is my most used app on both of Apple’s tablet devices. It addresses a problem most of us face using the internet. Over the course of the day I will see dozens of things I might want to read on the web, through RSS feeds, Twitter, or surfing. This wealth of potential reading is one of the wonders of the digital age but we haven’t been able to stretch time yet. I’ve got projects to finish, cheeseburgers to buy, and a toddler to chase. This is where Instapaper comes in.
To use Instapaper, I put an Instapaper “bookmarklet” in my web browser and every time I come across an article or blog post that looks interesting I click on it. The article is then saved for me to read later. I can access these articles again by going to the Instapaper home page and logging in. I can also use my preferred method and access them through the Instapaper app on my iPhone/iPod Touch or iPad. When accessed through a computer’s web browser each article loads in its original page, but on mobile devices each article loads only the main text and any included photos in a clean reading layout.
Instapaper has saved me some serious time and distraction by allowing me to filter through articles easily at my leisure. The service’s creator, Marco Arment, has addressed a need that we media consumers had but didn’t know how to articulate. His product has succeeded for the same reason that Apple products succeed, it found something to streamline and simplify and executed it using clear and concise design. I’m hooked.