Web Readers

ReadItLater and InstaPaper might seem interchangeable products, but they are not.


Rating: +++++


ReadItLater can become a favorite link in the notoriously low-featured Safari. It works with any tablet (including Kindle Fire), smartphone or browser. Over 300 apps incorporate its link.

The App offers a conventional listing of your items divided into pages. Clicking on the title brings up the full text, clicking on the tick puts the piece in the archive.

I found this handy when I was creating a slideshow from web pages. I could put them out of sight as I used them, but retrieve them from the archive again when I needed to indicate the source, simply by switching over to the list of read pages.

To get rid of the page you have to deliberately choose the option.

If you want to keep the page permanently you can save it to Evernote, which makes it a handy first port of call for surfing.

Should you decide to share it by email you can send either the link or a nicely formatted version.

The App offers instructions on how to incorporate it manually as ReadLater (Apple won't allow it to install automatically). But the discrepancy in names has started to bother me, so I have changed the title to ReadItLater. Note, too, that the website is entitled ReadItLaterList.com.

Share your favorites

ReadItLater also offers all those conventional ways of sharing your favorites through Twitter, Facebook, Diig, Delicious, My Space, Tumblr, StumbleUpon etc. – all those social media services I don't post to, even though I'm signed up with them. And you can switch them off so they don't appear as options.

Be warned, sometimes the pages appear as links rather than themselves. But ReadItLater is smart enough to figure that out for you, alert you and preserve the link.


Rating: ++++


InstaPaper ($4.99 for iPad) doesn't offer the facility to save your pages from Safari, but it has something even more valuable. You can download saved pages onto your Kindle with the USB cable.

If you like Flipboard, InstaPaper's reformatting of the headlines and intros into boxes on a flippable page is appealing. When you view the full story, the formatting is not great but it is very usable, as I can attest from a recent flight across the Atlantic. If you want, you can switch back and forth to web view with one button. Sometimes that improves things.

Too coy for me

The Safari shortcoming is annoying but most news aggregators, feedreaders, twitter program and wikipedia offline do support InstaPaper. I don't know why the App doesn't tell you plainly on its website that it doesn't do Safari. And when you add it to your Favorites in a webbrowser, the link is entitled ReadLater (ugh!).

Other reviews of InstaPaper

http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/instapaper-beautiful-usable-scripts-apps/ (27 January 2011): "not the prettiest site on the web" (the site offers scripts to customize the look).


Rating: ++++


This is the granddaddy of Web text savers. The file itself is there for you to read and edit as you want, with folders (known as notebooks) and facilities such as reading text and numbers from images, along with a multipurpose notepad (checklists, spreadsheets as well as text). Its free version may be all you need. Some people use it for storing everything in the cloud.

It is also available for Windows so that you can switch between iPad and your PC, Mac, Android, iPhone and Blackberry (not Linux) and always be in synch. It even offers an audio note-taking facility. Add-ons give you the chance to scan documents directly to Evernote.

So why rate it only at 4 rather than 5? Because it does not offer an easy way to take text out of a webpage and save only that. Even Safari these days offers a stripped-down version of its Web pages. So you can lose the time you saved in clipping a web page in tidying it up afterwards

Other reviews of Evernote

http://www.thetechenthusiast.com/2012/01/evernote-review.html (20 January 2012): "While evernote still retains a slight learning curve, it's hands down on of the best note taking apps available."


12 February 2012