Since Betaworks acquired read later service Instapaper from its creator Marco Arment, the startup studio has been pretty quiet. But the first major update is now right around the corner. The web reader was updated and a beta version is available. According to the blog post, the iOS and Android versions will receive some love as well, and many long standing feature requests will eventually come to the service.
Users will soon be able to sort and filter unread items in the mobile apps. Like competitor Pocket, Instapaper will have browser extensions to supplement the traditional bookmarklet on the desktop. RSS feeds will make a comeback as there used to be a way to subscribe to an RSS feed in Instapaper, but it was killed due to server charge and Arment’s design decision. Finally, Betaworks mentions new social integrations.
For those last two features, Betaworks may integrate Instapaper with its other services, such as Digg. Maybe the RSS feature will be a way to import your feeds from Digg Reader. Maybe the new social integrations will be Digg buttons.
Yet, Betaworks has been very careful with Instapaper. One of the reasons the company likes Instapaper is because the service is already profitable. There is no free version of Instapaper on iOS or Android — the app costs $3 on the App Store and Google Play. Moreover, there is an optional subscription fee of $1 a month to unlock a better search feature.
That’s why Betaworks doesn’t want to alienate Instapaper’s existing users. The new development team is always asking for feedback on Twitter and on the blog. Similarly, the new web reader currently coexists with the existing Instapaper.com website.
In today’s blog post, the Instapaper team mentions Arment’s ideas and to-dos for improving Instapaper. While it’s unclear whether he is still regularly giving advice for the product roadmap, Betaworks is taking into account the feedback he gave during the acquisition.
The web reader isn’t the most used component of the service but was clearly neglected until now. This first update is a good sign for the overall product direction and gives us hope for future iOS and Android app updates.
Love this. http://t.co/3nS1r0PnHa
— Marco Arment (@marcoarment) August 9, 2013