Instapaper vs. ReadItLater

While searching for ways to get blogs on an eReader, I found two services, Instapaper and ReadItLater, which do pretty much the same: Offering a way to temporarily save links to websites/articles/blog posts/you name it that you would like to read, but don’t have the time for when you find them. This reading list can be accessed online from multiple devices and suitable content can be shown in a reading-friendly text/article view. I have used them to separate the sorting of my RSS feeds in google reader and choosing the interesting pieces from the actual reading. Not seeing the number of unread items, most of which I’d only skim over anyway, makes the reading much more relaxed and enjoyable. However, I have switched between Instapaper and ReadItLater back and forth and can’t make up my mind which one I prefer.

I like the ReadItLater add-on for Firefox. It is so convenient to add the open site via a little button in the address bar and mark it as read in the same way. And with another button you can either open your reading list in a little pop-up or go directly to the next unread item, depending on which setting you prefer. Furthermore, ReadItLater allows you to download all the content of your reading list onto your computer, so that you can still read when offline.

Instapaper offers a bookmarklet to add the current site to the reading list, but to read or mark a site as read you have to visit the instapaper website and find that site in the list first. I do have hope that there soon will be a full Instapaper add-on for Firefox, though, as a full API has just been released.

I am also not quite sure which reading view I prefer. ReadItLater has more options to change the layout. But it strips out all pictures and delivers pure text. I like having the pictures belonging to the main text in there as well, though. In some cases, bits of the text were even missing in the ReadItLater reading view, in other cases, Instapaper would not be able to produce the reading view at all, whereas ReadItLater was perfectly fine.

Finally, Instapaper has native support for eReader formats such as epub and the one for the kindle, whereas you need separate applications to transfer ReadItLater content. This might eventually be a deciding feature, but without an eReader, I cannot try this out yet. So I will continue switching and trying for a while, and hoping that the two people behind Instapaper and ReadItLater get together and merge their services soon.

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  1. Pingback: Switching from Instapaper to ReadItLater | Gadget Wisdom

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