Switched from Pocket to Instapaper

I was a user of Pocket, in fact one of the top 5% users until recently when I decided to switch to Instapaper. Why? you ask, I had several reasons and I'm going to talk about them. First reason, the sole job of a Read It Later app is to parse the webpage and present it nicely when asked for and stay out of the way. Pocket's parser is not the best especially when the page contains source code. Sometimes it would entirely remove the code or parse it as normal text removing all the formatting. This defects the sole purpose of Pocket. Second reason, the free version of Pocket lacks full-text search which basically means I cannot search 500+ saved articles. Now, offcourse one can pay the 4.99$/month price to get that feature but I never wanted to pay because of the first reason. This really bugged me in past few days since I wanted to search something and tried to go through the list of articles saved but couldn't find it. So, I finally decided to switch.

I tried looking for open source software which led me to selfhosted-awesome repository. I decided to give Wallabag a try but I didn't wanted to set it up myself just for trial but thankfully Wallabag provides a hosted service at wallabag.it with a 14 days trial. I created an account there and convineintly imported Pocket archive through there integration. The web interface has two not very good looking themes with no customization for font or color selection. It allowed me to immediately perform full text search which was lacking previously. I installed the application on phone where thankfully it had dark mode. The parser was also decent enough and did a good job at various types of pages. It supports tagging each entry and exposes them as RSS feed. However the look and feel were not the best. The integrations were also not the easiest thing to configure. You have to first go to web interface and create an Application Token which will give a ClientID and ClientSecret. You have to enter that along with Username and Password each time. I had to do it atleast 4 times (browser extensions and Phone App). Then came the horror, I tried installing the ios application on my iPad and turns out the application is not optimized for tablet at all. The interface is very bad and the login form was just black without cursor or any information. I had to figure out which one goes where by hit and trial. It started to have a bad feeling about it and didn't wanted to settle with it so I decided to look something else.

I came across EmailThis, which is quite frankly very convineint. The idea is simple, you just tell it which link to save, it will parse and send it to you as a nicely formatted email. No need for third-party application and can save it indefinitely and do full text search using any mail client. However, the free service was limited to 20 articles a month and there is no monthly plan so you have to commit for a year. One other concern was saving in the mail. As tempting as it might seem, it is basically giving Google even more information about me. One other problem with the solution is that there is no direct integration for phones, there solution is to use “Share” in phone browser to send an email to them. I think that's slightly inconvinent as you have to go out of context just to save the page.

Finally, I came back to Instapaper (which I used to use before Pocket). Turns out they are independent company now free from Pinterest. Instapaper comes with a free edition which can be used just like Pocket but without Notes and Full text search support. They reintroduced premium which is actually cheaper then Pocket at just 2.99$/month and has same features. I really like the interface, themes and font choices in Instapaper. Also, it does exactly one thing and gets out of the way. It comes with applications for both ios and Android and browser extensions to easily save the pages. I decided to settle with it.

Comments