Platform: iPad and iPhone (The Android Marketplace includes apps, such as InstaFetch, that integrate with Instapaper)
Have you ever been reading through Twitter, or Zite, or Pulse, or something else on an iPhone or iPad and thought to yourself, “That looks really interesting but I don’t have time to read it now.” It’s likely that you have. Or, have you ever talked with teens using an iPad or iPhone for research and looking for a way to collect resources for later reading and use? It’s possible that you have. If the answer to either of these questions is “yes” then Instapaper has the potential to be really helpful.
The idea of Instapaper is quite simple, save an article of interest for reading later. Frequently, the easiest way to do that saving is through the Instapaper feature of an app in which articles are accessed. For example, I can be browsing through articles in Zite on my iPad and see something that I’m really interested in but don’t have time to read. I click on the Instapaper link, sign into my Instapaper account, and save. Then when I go to Instapaper on my iPad (or on the web or on my iPhone) the article is available for me to read when the time is right. It’s also possible to save articles via a Safari bookmarklet (that can be added to an iPad or iPhone), or via the Instapaper app (by going to a specific URL within the app and then saving for later reading).
Many apps and websites include Instapaper integration. These include customizable magazine apps such as Zite, as mentioned above, Flipboard, and Pulse. Articles that appear in Google Reader can be easily added to Instapaper via a Bookmarklet. And, several Twitter apps, including Twitter, Twitterific, and Seesmic, contain Instapaper integration. A full list of integrated apps and sites is available on the Instapaper website.
Once an article is saved when the Instapaper app is opened it appears in the “Read Later” list. Click on any article in the list and it opens up for reading. The app also makes it possible to favorite and archive articles as well as make folders in order to organize articles by topics. The ability to make folders may be very useful for teens who are working on a variety of projects. A teen might have folders for specific school subjects or folders for specific projects.
The settings in the Instapaper app include options for the number of articles to download to the device (downloading articles makes it possible to read content when offline – perhaps there is no wireless connection or no 3G service, that’s OK with Instapaper it’s still possible to read saved articles), how articles should be deleted (via archiving or permanent deletion), the sort order of articles (oldest or newest first), and the accounts with which users would like Instapaper articles to be shared. The sharing includes Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Evernote. If sharing is setup for various accounts, when viewing an article in Instapaper it’s possible to share that article with others via whatever social media tool is selected.
Sharing also comes into play in the Instapaper app with the “Liked by Friends” feature. It’s possible to add “Liked” items to one of the social media platforms setup in the Instapaper app. This again can prove to be very useful to teens as they find articles of use and interest and share them with classmates and friends via Evernote, Twitter, or Facebook. Teens working on a school project together can use the “like” feature to inform classmates with which they are collaborating on a project about an article that might come in handy in their classwork.
Instapaper is not the only read later app available. Another popular service of the same type is called Read It Later. Apps that make it possible to save content of interest in order to read that content at a more convenient time can be very useful to librarians working with teens, and to the teens with whom they work. Check out Instapaper and suggest to teens and their teachers how they might make use of it too.