Getting started with read-it-later apps Instapaper and Pocket

There's so much stuff to read online, but who has the time? Instapaper and Pocket help you time shift your online reading.

I spend a lot of time reading news--partly because it's a big aspect of my job, but also because I simply love reading. There's just one problem: I never have enough time to take it all in when I find it. That's why I rely heavily on read-it-later apps to save all the interesting articles I find, stashing them away for future perusal.

Today, I'm going to introduce you to Instapaper and Pocket, two popular read-it-later apps. Both do essentially the same thing: Save articles and blog posts in a text-centric, distraction-free format for later consumption on your PC, smartphone, or tablet.That said, there are slight differences between the two that you'll want to be aware of when choosing your preferred app.

Instapaper: The no-nonsense reader

Platforms: Android, iOS, Kindle, Web

The original read-it later app, Instapaper uses a very clean, text-only layout. It also comes at a cost if you want to move beyond the browser, with apps priced at $3.99 on iOS and $2.99 on Android. Instapaper also offers a yearly subscription for $12 that entitles you to no ads, full-text search for all articles saved to your account, unlimited highlights, and a few other features.

Pocket: Easy reading, but with more flash

Platforms: Android, BlackBerry, iOS, Kindle Fire, Kobo, Mac, and Web.

Unlike Instapaper, Pocket is more visual and organizes your articles in a touch-friendly tile format. Plus it's free. Like Instapaper, Pocket also offers a text-centric article layout, but includes some images from the original version.

Saving for later from your PC

Both apps provide you with several ways to save items for later, including browser extensions for Chrome (Instapaper, Pocket) and Firefox (Pocket only). Pocket also has a very nice standalone Chrome app.

I already have a ton of browser extensions on my PC, so I prefer to use the bookmarklets provided by both services. To install the bookmarklet you just visit the Instapaper or Pocket site and drag the bookmarklet into your bookmarks bar.

Now just sign-in to your preferred reading service and you're ready to start saving. Bookmarklets are also pretty universal and will work in most browsers, including Internet Explorer.

With your bookmarklet or browser extension installed, simply visit an article on the web, tap the bookmarklet or extension icon, and bam! Your article is now in your Instapaper or Pocket account and available for future reading across all your devices. 

The downside of read-it-later apps

From time to time, you'll come across an article or blog post that refuses to play nice with read-it-later reformatting. In those cases, both Instapaper and Pocket let you open the item as a regular web page, so you can still save the item even if you can't read it in a simpler format.

Beyond saving articles, both services also let you save videos from sites like YouTube and Vimeo for later viewing. Each service also has some (mostly minor) auxiliary features. Instapaper, for example, recently launched a weekly newsletter delivering the most popular Instapaper articles from the week to your email inbox.

Whichever app you choose, both Instapaper and Pocket are great choices for saving all those interesting articles you find during the day for later reading.

This story, "Getting started with read-it-later apps Instapaper and Pocket" was originally published by PCWorld.

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