If you’re serious about reading online content it’s probably a good idea to sign yourself up to one of the “read it later” services. The 2 main ones are probably Pocket and Instapaper. I’ve always preferred Instapaper over Pocket for a few reasons. Firstly, Instapaper is just a better app. It’s got lots of fonts, better pagination options, location aware downloads and nowadays it even looks better. That’s not to say that Pocket is bad, I particularly like that they have a native Mac app, but I’ve never been able to figure out how they are going to make money long term and as a customer that worries me. I’ve stopped using both, though.
A bit of background: Earlier this week I sold my Moto G and went back to my trusty iPhone 4S for a multitude of reasons. I also got an iMac at Christmas so I’m back to my old setup of OS X and iOS as my primary drivers.
As a result I’m using Safari as my main browser again and that means I can make full use of Safari Reader and Reading List. I much prefer managing my articles this way because it just feels like a much better and more fluid way of doing it.
The main reason for using this service over the others is because it’s built right in to both browsers. I don’t have to mess around with bookmarklets or extensions to save my content nor do I have to worry about whether or not the relevant app is installed and logged in.
Often times when I add an article to the other services it’s because I want the text view there and then and not because I want to actually “read-it-later”. There are ways of parsing the text without adding it to your list on those apps but again they need bookmarklets or extensions. On Safari it’s built right in to the address bar. One click and the text is parsed immediately into a really nice readable format. An added bonus is that this state actually syncs over iCloud tabs as well. If I open a tab on my iPhone and I was using Safari Reader to read the page on my Mac then the phone will let me pick up right where I left off.
Another problem with the other apps I have is that sometimes I want to read an article later but I want the full article, not just the parsed text. Safari caches the full webpage for offline reading which makes this incredibly easy. What I find myself doing now is essentially creating my own little newspaper in the mornings. I go to the same websites every morning as well as checking twitter and when I see an article I want to read, rather than open it in a tab and bog down my computer, I just shift+click and the link goes to reading list. Then when I’ve finished finding the stuff I can go to my reading list and simply scroll through each page one at a time. If I want parsed text, it’s a click away. Webpage has proprietary video? Not a problem. Once I get to the bottom of each page Safari automatically slides in the next one without any effort on my part.
Lastly, I would be remiss if I championed this feature but didn’t admit there is a small downside some people may come across. Reading List support in 3rd party apps is quite slim compared to Pocket or Instapaper. It’s not a problem for me as I prefer to open articles in my browser before saving them anyway but I can see this being an issue for others. The only place I save links directly from is Twitter and luckily both Tweetbot for Mac and iOS support reading list. It should also be noted that if you don’t have a Mac or iOS device then this service is of no use to you. Chrome doesn’t have anything like this. Again, the other services aren’t bad by any stretch, I just much prefer Safari Reader. People often ask me why I use Safari Reader and now you know.