Sunday, May 6, 2012

Playback: Comparative Instapaper, Readability and Pocket - II

The interface Readability is not much less convincing, but it is penalized by unsound choices regarding fonts: the creations of Hoefler & Frere-Jones are considered, but none are really suitable for prolonged reading. The night mode of readibility nonetheless seems to be the most subtle of the three applications. Again, Pocket is halfway: it offers only two fonts, but both are excellent choices (including Proxima Nova), and enough in the end.

Pocket is still handicapped by a motor less intelligent than its two competitors. It is certainly appropriate for many types of content, but it ultimately fails to be good in every area: there are times not to understand that an item is saved a video, is often difficult to recognize dates a ticket, and do not often suppresses parasitic elements to the text (links, cartridges).

Readability suffers the same defects, though its new engine, Iris, has improved the situation. There are still too often links or asides in the middle of an article and articles on several pages are sometimes simply cut. After extensive testing, it appears that often Readability is doing better than Pocket in the management of YouTube or Wikipedia, as a climax Pocket offers a dedicated filter to the video.

The big winner here is Instapaper: Marco Arment is a web specialist and parsing content (he was technical director of Tumblr), and works hard for the recognition of different sections of an article. It is simply impossible to find fault with Instapaper text articles, even on the darkest sites. Of course, this service is unable to manage the videos and web pages which are not articles, or Pocket Unlike Readability, but it is a choice taken. 


Arment has worked hard this aspect of its application, but by abandoning his website: he was never particularly attractive, and today is downright daunting. Note that clicking on a link does not see a sanitized version of the site, but the original version. Instapaper is still the only service offering to categorize items in folders, in addition to the separation articles to read / archived articles. The single also highlight an option to export content in a simple format, the CSV.

Readability of the site is undoubtedly not only clearer and more user friendly than that of Instapaper, but also more functional: all the necessary functions are just a click away. It's a shame that the export options are hidden in the options, and that the format is not the easiest for all-comers (JSON). We appreciate that clicking on a link goes to a stripped down version of the article with all the functions of the service nearby, you most dislike against the elements shared with friends refer not to the original site, but to a frame on servers of Readability - a way to enjoy the content of others to promote its service that is detestable.

The site tries to transcribe Pocket atmosphere of the application, which is pretty significant, especially since it is fast enough - this consistency is strength of the former Read It Later. Click on a link takes on a simplified version of the original article, with a link to the full site, without the framework imposed by Readability. Finally, this service offers an export in a very simple, but impractical: a simple HTML page. Again, therefore, appears as Pocket in the middle of its practices competitors. Marco Arment was always clear: Instapaper is available and will only be available on iPhone and iPad, and e-Ink Kindle via an associated service. Paying subscribers to its service might use on Android, the promising, but very incomplete Papermill, developed by a third party. Readability as Pocket is directly available on Android and more iOS, and some Mac applications manage the three services. Instapaper, Readability as Pocket is available as a sharing option in many applications iOS, which iGeneration iPad (and the next version of Mobile MacG Instapaper which offers at the moment).

Instapaper does not offer browser extension, merely a bookmarklet, unlike his two competitors. It must finally address one final point rarely mentioned in the comparison of these applications, but yet the most important: the business model of these services, but also their sustainability. The model Instapaper is clear: the universal application pays once (3.99 €), and that's it. You can subscribe ($ 3 per quarter) to enable additional features, including access to the APIs needed to use third-party clients, but Instapaper works fine without. Marco Arment makes a point of honor not to accept foreign investment and is working on its application to full-time: this strategy has the merit of being clear, and not to have changed since the first day.
Readability is probably applying the least stable of the three: founded and financed by Arc90, she changed three times a year in business model, and began to play pure deferred until very recently. Offers a subscription service that allows support to pay content creators, but its operation is much maligned opaque. Pocket is a bit clearer: the application is now free, as the associated service, without advertising or subscription. The company has recently opened its capital to private investors, and is now seeking to attract as many users on as many platforms to be made to pay later, probably in the form of advertisements.

In short, Instapaper seems to be the best final reading application pure delayed: she's ugly, it is boring, but it works fantastically well with a quality engine. The clarity of Marco Arment is more significant in this competitive landscape, especially after the wave of closures of web services more or less similar. If you want a more versatile look to Pocket: the service is less chaotic than Readability and its application often higher, despite an engine more prone to error. Finally, remember that with the playlist and Drive Mode, Apple offers a system that can be used in the same way: it is less convenient, less immediate, and requires Safari, but it does not require a third-party application.

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