App Faceoff: Pocket vs. Instapaper

“Read Later” apps have become more popular as people use their smartphones and tablets on-the-go. I’ve used Pocket for years, and I recently decided to pay for Instapaper because it offered features Pocket does not. I use both, but for different purposes.

Pocket is great for short articles, especially ones with images. I’ve set Flipboard up to share with Pocket, and I’ll often scan headlines during breakfast and then send articles to Pocket for reading throughout the day. Pocket is also my repository for articles I want to reference for later posts.

I only use Pocket for short articles because I find the app’s page-flipping option to be touchy, at best. Sometimes it’ll go into page flipping mode … and sometimes it won’t. I don’t mind scrolling for short articles, but for longer reading, I really prefer to tap or swipe to turn pages.

Page flipping was why I finally decided to pay for Instapaper for my iPad and my Google Nexus 7. Plus, there are all the formatting options: You can set up Instapaper to look much like an e-reading app, with lots of font and margin choices.

I use Instapaper for long articles where images aren’t important. Like blog posts by Kristen Katheryn Rusch, for instance. She writes excellent pieces, but they’re long enough that I don’t want to scroll through them in Pocket.

Guilty admission here: I also use Instapaper to download and read FanFiction. You won’t tell on me, will you?

Getting articles into each application is easy. You can set up a bookmark in your browser to send to either app, and I’ve seen little-to-no difference in how they work. Occasionally one service will handle an article better than the other, but that’s the exception. Both have instructions to set up a bookmark in Safari for iOS, and I’ve found it works well. Dolphin Browser for Android has a Share option to both apps.

Anyone else particularly prefer one over the other?

5 Comments on App Faceoff: Pocket vs. Instapaper

  1. I use Instapaper for as well. The multi-page support is really nice for websites like that. But, I’ll experiment with Pocket some more.

  2. Josh, do you know about ? For multi-chapter stories the downloader is amazing. Lots of formats, including mobi and epub and very easy to use.

  3. Wow, that tool looks great. I’ll test it out.

  4. I’ve been using both for a while, and paid for Instapaper. So far I prefer Pocket. But I’m anxious to see what changes come to Instapaper since the sale.

  5. @Speedmaster, I’m with you. Instapaper development has been pretty stagnant for a while. I’m hoping that changes with the sale.

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