Sunday, October 17, 2010

You Can Save Web Material to Read Later, Boomers

I recently came across an app called Instapaper, which has been added to some top 10 app lists, and I thought it might be of interest to Boomers, especially those of us with iPhones or iPads.  It's pretty simple to use, but could save you a lot of squinting. OK, so I know our eyes aren't what they used to be!

Basically, as you are reading on the web, either on your computer, on your iPhone or even on your iPad, you can save what you are reading to read later, when you have time, and you can read it in a text only format that is easier on the eyes. I signed up for Instapaper at the website

It's a very simple sign-up procedure as you can see. After you sign up, you have access to a "Read Later" button that you can drag to your tool bar. To drag it in Windows, just place your mouse over the button, left click the mouse and move it into place on the tool bar.
As you browse the web and you find things you don't want to read quite yet, you can hit the "Read Later" button and Instapaper saves the articles for you. When you are ready to go back to them, just sign into your Instapaper account, and there they are. I was browsing the web for some ideas for this blog and here is the way the two articles I wanted to read later are listed.  You can see that both are from an industry paper called InformationWeek, but this could easily be the New York Times or CNN online. Do you see the button that says "Text?" That means that you can see this article in a text only format, devoid of the chaos around it.

Where this application really shines is when you use it on your iPhone or iPad, during those slow times when you are waiting in line or in the doctor's office. You can check to see if there are any articles in your queue, and read away. You'll always know that what is there, is material you wanted to read.

I downloaded the free version of Instapaper for my iPhone via the iTunes App. Once again it was very easy to download the app and when I signed in with my email address, my list of articles above was right there. A couple of  caveats about the free version. You may get some off color advertising with it . You are warned of this before loading the app via a warning which says you have to be over seventeen to use it. Also, on the free version, you can only keep a list of ten articles to read later.  If you want more, you'll have to pony up for the $4.99 paid version. I understand the paid version lets you adjust the fonts, a great boon for Boomers.

My advice is to use the free version for a while to get a feel for the application. Then, if you find the advertising annoying enough, or find the fonts too small, or run into the limitations on the number of articles you can store, you can consider giving the developer his $4.99.

Here is the way the Skype article from InformationWeek that I saved to Instapaper looks.

You often get an option to open the page in Safari, so you can see what it is like on web. InformationWeek has a nicely optimized site for its information, so you will find the article in an easy-to-read format. In other cases you won't be so lucky and Instapaper's clean, clear presentation will be important to you.

Another useful app along the same lines is called Readability. Although this works just on the web, I guarantee that you'll be amazed at how much easier to read it makes web-based articles. Although this little button doesn't let you save anything for later, you'll want to use Readability whenever you are surfing the web and want to get rid of some of the website clutter.

I went to the website and selected my settings, from the options of Style, Size, and Margin. Then I dragged the "Readability" button to my tool bar, much in the same way I had dragged the "Read Later" button. Next, I surfed the web. Here is how the CNN article about the miners who were trapped in Chile looked on my Firefox browser.

 And this is how it looks by clicking Readability.

I know there are many other web and mobile apps that Boomers are using to their advantage. If there is something you really like, suggest it in the comments section below, and I'll take a look. Maybe if we pool our resources we can come up with a list of great apps for Boomers.


Greg Katz said...

Wow. Readability really makes a difference. I wonder if there's an instapaper client for the Kindle? I think that would be a great application for it. I know amazon provides free internet access with some models.

Anonymous said...

Pretty cool! Most browsers also have an option to "Save webpage for later" under File to do the same thing. Thanks for sharing!

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