Friday, November 02, 2012

Pocket vs Instapaper (on Android)

I've been a long-time Pocket fan. I think I downloaded the paid version (back when it was named Read It Later, and before it went free) within the first week of it being released on Android. I've heard a lot about Instapaper over the years, but since it was iOS only, had no first-hand experience. That changed recently, one, because they finally released an Android version. I still hadn't tried it--no reason to, really since I loved Pocket so much, and it was not free--until a few weeks ago. Then, an update to Pocket had major problems on Asus tablets. So I decided that was my cue to try Instapaper. Here are all the things I missed:

If you have a URL copied to your clipboard, and activate Pocket, Pocket will sense this immediately and offer you a one-click option of saving for alter. Very nice, especially since Android Chrome browser doesn't support long-click to Share.

The swipe to scroll feature is very nice on phones (Kindle tap margin is still better).

Pocket has better interaction for standard usages. I hate how Instapaper starts by showing you the folders, whereas Pocket starts where you want to be--your reading list. I also really dislike the fact that it is two clicks to archive in Instapaper.

Pocket's download best view seems to result in a higher success rate than Instapaper.

Pocket's built in, floating rotation lock control is a very nice touch.

Pocket has the TTL Listen option built in. Surprisingly tolerable form of roll-your-own audio magazine.

Pocket implements long-press in list view, to let you mark or share an article. Minor, but a very elegant touch. As is the batch actions option.

Pocket's list view is single column, much cleaner than Instapaper's dual column.

How is Instapaper better?

I really can't find much in Instapaper that I find superior. That being said, it is still an excellent app, which I could be perfectly happy with. It's just that Pocket is even better.
  • It might be a smidge snappier.
  • It has the labels option--I don't use it, but some people seem to like it.
  • Oh here is one--I am clear on Instapaper's business model. I have no idea what Pocket's is, and that does worry me.
P.S. Although the Asus bug was inconvenient, it was apparently Asus-only, so probably not a black mark against Pocket. And, happily, Pocket's active development cycle delivered a fix a few days ago, so I will be back to Pocket full-time, once I have drained my Instapaper queue.

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