Read Later: Pocket Vs. Instapaper

by Deanna Chapman

I’ve been thinking about talking about technology as well as music for quite some time now. And I decided I would start with another topic I have quite the passion for, reading. Pocket and Instapaper, for those who may not know, are services and apps you can use to store articles away for later reading. I found myself having less and less time to read articles in the moment I’d come across them and found out about these services. You can, however, easily get carried away with saving hundreds of articles and never reading through all of them. I do my best to stay on top of it and at least catch up on weekends or nights when I have spare time. Anyway, enough of that. Here are my thoughts (and what I think are some key features) on Pocket and Instapaper and why I ultimately ended up sticking with Instapaper. 


Key Features

  • Share with friends
  • Extension
  • Better media playback
  • Tags

Pocket was the first “read later” service I had stumbled upon. And even though I used Instapaper more, I decided to go back to Pocket for a couple months. I found that certain things were better such as media playback and saving videos in general. They also had a share with friends feature where you could email an article directly to someone and they have recently enhanced it to allow you to have a conversation with said person. I never used the feature, so it wasn’t a deal-breaker for me. Overall, I think Pocket is great, but didn’t have a few things that I really enjoy with Instapaper. I do, however, see how this is great for people who like to share articles with friends and family. I mainly share articles via Twitter and both do that job well.

Pocket provides an app for Mac and iOS. When I initially used Pocket, I had the Mac app open and found I didn’t like having too many apps going at once so this second time around I stuck with using the web view in Chrome. However, I used the iOS app quite a bit to save articles as I’d browse Twitter and Reeder. The extension wasn’t quite as fast as the new one Instapaper has implemented, but it did give you the option to add tags to what you were saving. Overall, I found Pocket would be better if I was using it with others to send articles back and forth.


Key Features

  • Speed reading
  • Article read time
  • Fast extension
  • Folders

When Instapaper was first introduced to me, I had used Pocket here and there but never really stuck with it, so I decided to give this one a shot and it stuck with me a bit more. Now I use it on a daily basis. In the web view and in the mobile app, you get a nice clean view. You can make some simple changes to the background color for easier reading in different lights, but other than that, there’s not much customization. One downside is that sometimes pictures and videos don’t parse as well in Instapaper as they do in Pocket. In the web app, Instapaper will also give you an estimated read time for each article, which I love because then I can look and see which articles I can quickly get through and which will take up more of my time before even clicking on them.

On iOS, I’m currently running a beta version of Instapaper and a new feature for testing is speed reading. I’ve tried it out a couple of times so far and really enjoy it. You can adjust the speed that the words appear and it’s a great way to quickly get through articles. It even gives you the ability to pause it and resume later if you need to. The extension has also been approved and is extremely quick. I love the fact that you can move articles into a specific folder right when it saves. Instead of a read time listed on the iOS app, you get dots that appear in the bottom right corner to show the length of an article (i.e. 3 dots, is a fairly short article, while one with 6 or more is longer). With Instapaper, I liked the idea of folders more so than tags. There’s not really a reason for this, I just think it looks cleaner with how the folders are implemented in the web and iOS apps.Ultimately, I’ve been greatly enjoying the improvements Instapaper has been making and will be sticking with this service until I have some reason not to (which I don’t imagine will happen any time soon).