Nowadays, with all the information available on the web, it can become a bit overwhelming to try to cover all of it in a short period of time. This is especially true for written articles, since reading takes longer than just any other form of media consumption. Because of this, and the boom of smartphones and tablets, “read later” services have become more popular than ever. In past entries we have compared some of the most popular iPhone apps for these services.
This time though, we take a look at all-time favorite of mine – Instapaper – and pit it against Readability, a somewhat new contender in the iOS app space.
Design and Navigation
Of all the major read-later apps on the iPhone, Readability is perhaps the one with the most user-friendly approach, providing you with a series of pre-selected articles from the moment you start using the app.
When it comes to its design, while not skeuomorphic by any means, Readability relies heavily on textures and large interface elements. This can be good or bad depending on your tastes. For me, its looks are ok, and the big buttons and choice of red for some of its interface elements make it a great app for first-time users.
At $3.99 on the App Store, Instapaper is by no means cheap by iOS standards, but it is also the most popular read-later app (and web service) in the market and for good reason. The app has definitely the most minimal and streamlined looks of any similar ones, as well as folders, which is by far the best way to organize your articles.
Instapaper also offers many more options in its settings, making it more flexible than Readability.
A nice touch of Readability when reading something online is that the saving buttons are big and easy to access, encouraging you to save content (and thus, use the app even further).
Reading on the app is, in general, a quite pleasant experience thanks to the nice background color. Font sizes and styles can be easily adjusted as well, even from within articles themselves.
Additional option include a “night-mode” view for a reading experience that is easier on the eyes when in low light conditions, as well as the ability to share your articles via email, Facebook, Twitter and more.
When it comes to reading, Instapaper is regarded as the best app out there. When it first released a few years ago this was easy to asses. However, as more and more capable competing apps released, the choice has become harder. Still Instapaper has a clear edge over Readability in this crucial department. The app offers a lot more fonts to choose from, as well as different themes and even different scrolling options.
In short, it is clear from the outset that Instapaper is not only focused, but obsessed about providing the best reading experience, and that clearly shows.
It is easy to recommend Instapaper over Readability any time, since Instapaper simply offers everything Readability tries to and far more, all while executing its premise a lot better. However, at that price, not everyone will be willing to give it a try. But if you are a heavy reader of web articles, you owe it to yourself to get Instapaper. Compared to the great reading experience you will get from the app, its price is perfectly justifiable.