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Summary:

Another of the most popular iOS applications makes the move to Android as Instapaper becomes available in Google Play. Marco Arment, Instapaper’s creator, has noted that Android users prefer free software, so will they buy his app or opt for a free alternative?

instapaper-android

Another of the most popular iOS applications makes the move to Android as Instapaper is now available in Google Play. The useful software saves web pages for offline reading and re-formats them to remove all of the clutter often found around the content, providing a focused consumption experience. The Android version costs $2.99, which is interesting as Marco Arment, the creator of Instapaper, removed his free iOS version some time ago an opted for a paid model. Arment has noted that Android users prefer free software, so will they buy his app or opt for a free alternative?

The Verge has an exclusive, early look at Instapaper for Android, showing two minor differences between it and the iOS app: no true full-screen reading due to Android’s status bar and no pagination. All of the other features and customization options are there, save for a just-added background sync function added to iOS based on location; your saved stories can sync when get home or arrive at the office, for example. If you’re an Instapaper user already and have been waiting for an Android version, I don’t see any reason not to try the app, even at $2.99. There’s always the 15-minute return policy in Google Play if the Android version doesn’t meet your needs.

What I find interesting about the app is that it exists at all. Arment is a huge proponent of all things Apple and I don’t begrudge him that: He’s often right. But he also feels that Android users in general don’t pay for software, so why bother? In some sense, he really didn’t, as the development work was outsourced to the team that builds Tumblr’s mobile app. Arment didn’t code the Android version, so while he may have invested money in the development, he didn’t invest himself. In fact, as of the time of this writing, the Instapaper blog doesn’t even mention the new Android version.

I see this as more of an experiment for Arment and a way to get Android users asking “Where’s Instapaper for my phone?” to stop asking. They won’t ask any more, but will they pay? Big fans of Instapaper — there are plenty, and with good reason — are sure to buy, but I suspect most Android users won’t. Pocket, which until recently was called Read It Later, is not only free, but supported on far more platforms.

As much as I like Instapaper on my iOS devices, I’m not always using an iOS device and therefore I gravitated towards Pocket. Apple’s iOS devices are hot sellers and great, but I think we’re on the cusp of moving beyond single-platform apps towards software and services that work on whatever device we have in hand. Thoughts?

  1. Services are better when they aren’t tied to single platforms. That’s why I prefer Pocket to Instapaper now.

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  2. I’ve invested a lot of time with Pocket and I find it meets my needs. I can’t see myself moving over to Instapaper even though Marco Arment sounds like a decent guy! Pocket is my Dropbox….

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  3. I love Pocket and won’t be switching, but I did buy it to support developed on Android in general.

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  4. I will have to agree. I switch between devices like the weather (it is why I chose Google’s Android), and need my stuff to move with me. If you are all Apple and will always be all Apple, then fine. But if you are even thinking of a future using non-Apple devices I would stay away.

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  5. Paid for ReadItLater years ago, purely because it was cross-platform. It has continued to get better and better.

    No offense to Instapaper, but you’re going to have to do something special to wow Android users because Pocket is already eating your lunch. We already have that and now it’s free.

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  6. I use both Instapaper and Pocket. Since Pocket handles media a tad better I send links with embedded video or a lot of pictures there. For articles that are primary about the story I send those to Instapaper.

    One thing that is unnerving about Pocket is the money. Free is “never” free and either there’s going to be some sort of advertising or my information is being sold. Everyone is in the business of making money to survive.

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    1. You say that as if being a paid app and selling of information/advertising are mutually exclusive. There’s no reason someone else wouldn’t take you $5 and sell your profile as well.

      Also, Pocket was a paid app prior being re-branded not too long ago.

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  7. I am using Readability (on both Chrome & Android) and don’t see a reason to migrate (yet). The price is not that high to not be affordable, so it shouldn’t be barrier, though.

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  8. Pocket works great, plus this Marco is apparently an Android-hater, so I doubt his committment to Android.

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  9. Pocket is free and absolutely superior to Instapaper for my purposes. Also, as noted in the article, Arment is an fanatical Apple fanboy and Android-hater – not a attitude worthy of supporting, no matter how indirect.

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  10. Why would you buy or even use a product in which the creator doesn’t see fit to invest his time or effort?
    Apps take maintenance so you want an app that is going to keep improving and adding features etc.
    Also, people get attached to their apps (or maybe just I do.) You organize your stuff, you build a library, you sync it to your Twitter favorites and RSS readers – so you want something you’re going to stick with.

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