Marco Arment recently released Instapaper 2.2 for iPhone and iPod touch. When you use an application as much as I use Instapaper, small changes can make a big difference. Here are assorted thoughts on the update.
Since I have only been using this for a couple of days, it is hard to say if I prefer reading page by page or with scrolling. On the iPhone, the individual ‘pages’ are small so there are frequent breaks, which can make following the flow of an article more difficult compared to continuous scrolling. The benefit is that you can focus on reading, not scrolling the right amount. Based on this, I suspect pagination will really show its benefits on the iPad, but time will tell.
I love the idea of adjusting the toolbar at the bottom of the screen based on context, which is used to access word definitions and for undoing scrolling to the top. This is what touch screens are good for.
Rotation is still broken, as it makes the type ridiculously big and the toolbar isn't made thinner. You can then change to a smaller font, but this means the text is much too small when switching back to portrait. Viewing larger images is the only use I can think of for landscape in its current form.
I wonder if it would work if the toolbar was turned off in landscape in order to maximise height. Just rotate back to portrait if you need any of the buttons.
Built in browser
I must say that I'm sceptical. I think it’s conceptually wrong as:
- One app should focus on doing one thing.
- Safari does web browsing better than Instapaper’s browser.
I expect to have to switch apps — really, I don’t mind. Instapaper has great persistence so I can come back to where I left.
Wonderful and timely. I was thinking just a few days before the Instapaper update that I did not have a very good workflow for looking up word definitions, since Ninjawords takes a little too long to launch. The built in Instapaper definitions are very fast, but only if I am in Instapaper when I want to look up a word. This is about 80% of the time so it is not much of a problem.
The edit button in the top right corner of the article list still uses old style iPhone list editing mode (from before iPhone OS 2.0, I think). Compare this with how the current Mail app’s edit mode works. While bulk move and delete will not be as beneficial in Instapaper as in an email app, I think consistency with the current system is important. The bright side is that I can still look forwards to this in a future update!
Unfortunately, Instapaper 2.2 has crashed a few times. The definitions feature seem particularly unstable. This is a bit annoying, but will not stop Instapaper being my favourite and most used app.
Instapaper was fantastic before. The update is worthwhile for pagination and definitions. The crashiness is not good, but I expect this will be sorted out before long.