No, this isn’t a joke. After months of denials and claims that Android is just not the right platform for him to work with, Marco Arment has released an official version of Instapaper for Android. Actually, he didn’t do any of the coding himself, but hired a third-party vendor, Mobelux, to do the work for him. It is, however, the only official Instapaper client for Android and as such the $2.99 price shouldn’t be overkill to those former iPhone or current iPad users already entrenched in the ecosystem.
The app itself lacks some of the polish one would come to expect from Arment — there is no pagination, nor a full screen mode — but it maintains the seminal design and simplicity that has made Instapaper such an enormous hit on iOS. While competitors Pocket and Readability have gone free, Instapaper is maintaining a paid app model to earn back its development costs. Considering its competitors share many of the same features, and integrate with desktop browsers equally well, it’s hard to imagine many users paying for the privilege of the name — Papermill, an excellent Instapaper app that looks and works great, is a prime example of this unwillingness.
Reading styles can be altered to suit your needs: brightness, text size, font choices, night mode and margin widths are all variable. Due to lack of pagination, all articles appear as one long scrolling list, but it’s worth it for the beautiful fonts and general Holo-based polish in the app. It supports 7-inch tablets, too, in a dual-pane layout that looks fantastic on the HTC Flyer or Galaxy Tab 2.
Instapaper for Android is also missing one of my favourite features from iOS: Featured Articles. While it’t not difficult to find great stuff to read while browsing through Twitter or your RSS feeds, sometimes you want suggestions from a curated list of erudite material. Mobelux claims that updates will come fast and furious to fix the omissions in the current version, but as a 1.0 product it’s a pretty good start.
If you’re interested, download Instapaper for Android. It’s running around $3.08 with the conversion, but is still a great deal.