When Instapaper was launched several years ago it had the simple goal of letting users save the articles they found on the web so it can be read later. It has grown to be one of the better services in that niche, but earlier this week they stepped out of their comfort zone.
With a quiet announcement on Twitter, a new section of Instapaper went live on Thursday. It’s called Instapaper Daily, and it serves up a single column feed of snippets and links to the most popular articles saved to Instapaper.
Instapaper Daily doesn’t serve up the content, just a snippet, but it does let you decide to either visit the source website or save the article to your Instapaper account so you can read it later. And in what could be described as a classic minimalist Instapaper style, only a single article from each of 6 categories (culture, business, tech, arts, internet, etc) is suggested for each calendar day. You can also browse an archive of the most popular articles.
The site is explicitly designed for a smartphone or small tablet. I would not try it on an iPad or any screen larger than 7″. But on a small screen it looks okay:
I’ve known about the new Instapaper feature since Friday afternoon. At first it inspired flashbacks to when Feedly was hijacking links a few weeks ago, but after I thought about Instapaper Daily I realized it was quite different. This service is only visible to someone who is already using Instapaper, and it gives equal weight to the source link. And while this might boost page views inside Instapaper, it’s not redirecting links from anywhere.
In reality this is closer to being a Flipboard-esque type of aggregator than anything.
But it’s not much like Flipboard, is it, with that service’s page after page after page of stories? Well, no, but then again Instapaper has always been a minimalist service. This idea is far more fitting with Instapaper’s style than if they had suggested a pageful of stories.
And speaking suggested reading, Readability is working on a similar feature called Recommendations. I’m told that this is a list of articles shared by other Readability users that you follow. The feature has been in an invite-only beta test for the past few weeks but it should be going public soon.