Instapaper Review

Every so often I’m going to post a quick review of some of my favourite apps – whether they are for OSX iOS or anything else. My previous review of Camera+ is here.


Instapaper LogoI use Instapaper more than I use almost any other app. Developed by Marco Arment, the original developer at Tumblr so that he would have great material to read on his way to work, Instapaper fills a need that you didn’t know you had: it gives you the ability to send interesting articles you find on the internet to your phone or tablet so you can read it later; even if ‘later’ has no internet connection.

By clicking on a little button in your browser, the content of whatever page you have open is stripped of ads, given basic formatting and sent to your phone or tablet. By opening the app on your device, you download the barebones article and can read it whenever you want. This even works with multi-page articles like some newspapers or magazine sites use. 90% of the time the formatting works perfectly, the other 10% of time it ranges from getting extraneous text, such as menus, at the top of the post ( I’m looking at you) to being completely unreadable. However, Instapaper overcomes this by having a built in browser. The browser is also great for quickly following up on links in the articles.

Instapaper also integrates with other apps I use a lot like Twitter and Reeder, a RSS reader. The only app it does not integrate wish that I wish it did is facebook – but that is hardly Marco’s fault. In total, Instapaper integrates with almost 150 other apps!

One of my favourite features of Instapaper is the cross device syncing. If I start reading an article on my iPhone I can pick up at exactly the same spot on my iPad and vice versa. The iPad is a much more pleasant device to read on but I have it with me much less; it’s great to be able to start something on my iPhone when I’m out and then continue it once I’m at home with the iPad.

Instapaper has made me read a lot of long-form journalism. Articles that originally appear in Time or Esquire that you won’t, or can’t, read at your computer are perfect for reading over breakfast or on the bus. Instapaper has also made it really easy to find these articles with “The Feature” – a curated collection of the articles sent most to Instapaper. I have found some fantastic article through it.

Instapaper is available on the iPhone, iPad, Kindle Fire, Android and Kindle. The phone and table apps work as expected, click a button in your browser and the link is sent to your device. The kindle service works a little differently; a collection of up to ten unread articles are sent to your kindle either daily or weekly.

Instapaper is not free – it’s €2.99. It’s worth every cent. I have read more newspaper and magazine articles on Instapaper than in the paper equivalent in the last year. I’m happy to pay the price of one paper or magazine for such a fantastic tool. If you aren’t, then Instapaper isn’t for you – but you’re missing out.

There are free alternatives to it that I have checked out and they simply don’t stack up to Instapaper. The alternatives often bill themselves as having more features however, all the extra features are useless if the basic ones are poorly implemented. In particular, cross device syncing is a big test – and Instapaper is the only one that passed properly.


Camera+ Review

Every so often I’m going to post a quick review of some of my favourite apps – whether they are Mac, iOS or any other kind of app.


Camera+ LogoCamera+ is the best camera app for the iPhone. It has all the features you’d expect from an iPhone camera app: the ability to set separate metering and focus points, a timer, burst mode and lockable white balance. There is also stability mode – handy for low light shooting – where the shutter only triggers if you hold the phone perfectly steady. The hardware volume up button can also be used as a physical shutter release.

However, it’s not the camera functions where Camera+ really shines but its editing and sharing features. Like a lot of photography apps, Camera+ includes a variety of filters to change the look of your photos; unlike a lot of other apps, such as Instagram,  Camera+ allows you to control the opacity of the filter. While Instagram photos often look over-filtered, with careful use of the opacity slider that is not an issue with Camera+. Also, the Scene Modes section allows for some basic adjustments based on what or where you were shooting.

The real star of all Camera+’s filters is the Clarity filter. Through some technological voodoo this filter massively improves pretty much any photo you apply it to – while the look might be slightly surreal at times, it’s something I’ve grown to like, and even to aim for (see my eyePhone review and some of my iPhone photos for proof!)

Sharing of photos is done through Camera+’s own servers: you select the photo you want to share, select how you want to share it (email, message or social media) and the picture is uploaded to with it’s own unique URL. Camera+ has replaced MMS for me. It’s far quicker, easier and cheaper to upload a photo to Camera+ and message someone the link than to rely on the expensive, slow and patchy MMS service that’s available in Ireland.

Camera+ is normally €1.59 in the iPhone app store but regularly drops to €0.79. I’d happily have paid twice that price though; I use it almost everyday. If you want to mainly share to facebook and Twitter then Instagram is a slightly more efficient app; but for sharing with a single person, editing and having the best iPhone camera app around then you can’t beat Camera+.