Instapaper 2.3 for iPhone and iPad now available

This is a major update with many improvements and fixes. The first change you’ll notice is the new layout of the list screen:

  • Both the iPhone and iPad now include the first few lines of text from articles (previously iPad-only). This text is downloaded for new articles only: Re-Download All Articles in Settings for it to apply to your previously downloaded articles.
  • The list now indicates approximate article length and progress with a row of dots, similar to how it’s done on a Kindle’s home screen. The more dots, the longer the article is, and darkened dots indicate approximately how far you’ve read in the article.

See?

The change is more subtle on the iPad, which now displays one more line of text and has the new length-and-progress indicators:

…but it comes with a huge hidden improvement: the iPad is now much faster to download updates.

Dark Mode improvements

The iPhone’s font panel also got its most highly requested feature, a Light/Dark toggle without needing to leave the article:

But you won’t need to use it as often, because I’ve added a ridiculous little feature:

You can now have Instapaper automatically use dark mode at night and normal (light) mode during the day.

But how, exactly, do you define “night”? There’s no API access to the iPhone’s ambient light sensor, so I can’t just enable dark mode in dark rooms.

And I can’t just define hour boundaries, because 8 PM in December is much darker than 8 PM in June.

And I can’t just look at hours and the date, because 5 PM in December is much darker in Alaska than in Costa Rica.

So I used with the most reliable method I could think of: sunset times in your location. Yes, Instapaper is now location-aware, but only for this feature. (Leave it to me to come up with the least-social use of locations possible.)

I’ve left this feature enabled for the last few weeks on my own iPhone and iPad, and I absolutely love it. I no longer need to think about dark mode: it’s just always set to what it should probably be.

Account sync with Safari

Instapaper 2.3 also contains a lot of less flashy improvements. With one of them, I hope to reduce one of the most common support issues: customers who have mistakenly entered different usernames in the app and Mobile Safari. Often this is from a simple typo or consistency mistake, such as entering “user123@gmail.com” in one place and just “user123” in the other, and mistakenly registering a new account (people don’t read text, especially in dialog boxes, remember?).

So there’s a new “Sync Account with Safari” item in Settings that launches Safari, checks that the usernames match, and offers you the choice if they don’t:

Tap the one that you want to use in both places, and Instapaper will sync Safari and the app to use it.

I’ve also overhauled the back-end login system to tolerate username changes, give more helpful errors (instead of “No internet connection”) on authentication failures, and fix the “username is already taken” bug in the login screen. Hopefully, you’ll never notice.

Slightly easier bookmarklet installation

The bookmarklet installation now skips the Select All and Copy steps, since the app downloads and copies the required bookmarklet code to the pasteboard for you. But bookmarklet installation is still needlessly complex due to shortcomings in iOS. Please, Apple, fix bookmarklet installation in Mobile Safari!

New “ihttp:” adding method

Instapaper now supports the “ihttp://” URL scheme to add pages. (Thanks for the idea, GoodReader.) If you can’t get the bookmarklet, the email address, or Copy working to add pages for some reason, or you just don’t like any of them (hey, you never know), there’s now another way to add pages to Instapaper from the iPhone or iPad:

Edit Safari’s URL field and insert an “i” before the “http://”, tap Go, and Instapaper will launch and offer to add that page.

So there are now four ways to get any web page into Instapaper:

  • The Read Later bookmarklet.
  • Emailing its link, or its full text, to your Instapaper email address.
  • Copying its URL from another iOS application, then launching the Instapaper app.
  • Inserting an “i” before “http:” in Mobile Safari.

Plus over 130 third-party applications that support sending to Instapaper directly.

And more

2.3 also brings a lot of smaller improvements and fixes, including:

  • New Sharing options:
    • Send to OmniFocus
    • Send to QuickReader (supported by its next version)
    • Copy Link
    • Copy Article Text
  • Fixed sharing bugs with Twitter (their iPad app doesn’t support it yet, so it’s disabled on iPad for now) and Twittelator Pro.
  • New option to skip the in-app Browser and open links directly in Safari.
  • Improved help text and other minor interface issues.
  • Fixed handing of in-page anchors (including most footnotes) and mailto: links.
  • Fixed miscellaneous bugs, including a pagination scrolling bug when running under iOS 4.2.

And, as usual, 2.3 is a free universal upgrade to anyone who has ever bought Instapaper on iPhone or iPad. If you really need to give me more money, consider becoming a Subscriber, but you really don’t need to.

What are you waiting for? Get Instapaper 2.3!

(If it hasn’t shown up in the App Store for you yet, it should within a few hours.)