There are boatloads of ways to save content for later reading. Every card-carrying browser has a bookmarking function, and there are zillions (approximately) of different link sharing and digital pinboard services that allows you to save, share, and organize anything you find on the web. So why use a “read it later” app? Well, for starters, the good ones take web content and strip away all the ads and other fluff, effectively giving it a more readable and appealing format. Second, the best ones support offline reading, so once you sync your device, you can read your saved articles anywhere – even if you happen to be in a place without a web connection.
So which are the best? In all honesty, there isn’t much competition in this space. When you really get down to it, and don’t count any pinboard, web clipping, or bookmarking services, there are only three big players in the RIL arena. So without further ado, here’s our list of the best read it later apps.
The Big Three
Compatibility & Support: First, we’ll start with you can read your saved articles from. The reader is available for Mac OS X, iOS, and Android devices. Windows & Linux users are out of luck, but can still save articles from their browsers via Pocket’s various browser extensions. In terms of compatibility with third party apps (ie, apps that have Pocket integrations and allow you to save content from them), Pocket is the winner of this list by a wide margin. Formerly named Read It Later, this app has been around longer than any other, and therefore has been integrated with more RSS and news reader apps.
Interface & Features: In terms of look and feel, Pocket scores high marks. It strips away all the fancy formatting your articles might’ve had just like other RIL apps do, but we think Pocket’s style is one of the best. And it packs a robust list of features too. You can easily adjust the size of the text, it supports sharing on any social network you can think of, and it comes with a whole host of tagging and organization tools.
Price: Pocket is completely free on all platforms
Compatibility & Support: Instapaper’s reader is available on iOS, Android, and any browser, so it doesn’t matter what operating system you use. As long as you have internet access, you can get hop on Instapaper and read your saved articles. The app does support offline reading, but obviously only works if you’ve synced prior to going off the grid. When it comes to third party app support, Instapaper boasts a pretty sizable list, including popular news readers like NetNewsWire, Pulse, and Flipboard. Check out the full list here to see if your reader of choice is supported.
Interface & Features: Instapaper has a super clean interface, although we’re much more fond of the mobile version than the web one. It’s got all the requisite bells and whistles you’d expect from a top-tier RIL app: resizable text, social media sharing options, and plenty of browser buttons to make web clipping really easy. It’s also includes a built-in following feature that lets you connect with your friends and read the things they save, which makes it great for discovering content you wouldn’t have read otherwise.
Price: The web version is totally free, but the mobile app will run you $2.99 on Android and $3.99 on iOS.
Compatibility & Support: Readability is only available on iOS and Android devices, so if you’re looking to read your saved articles on your desktop, consider using another service. That being said, their focus on mobile devices translates into a gorgeous mobile interface, but we’ll get to that in a minute. Third party app support is also lacking a bit – Readability is the youngest read-it-later app in the game, and it doesn’t currently have the robust app integration that some of its counterparts enjoy. Check out the list of supported apps here.
Interface & Features: This is where Readability shines. Although your opinion might be different, their exclusively-mobile interface is our favorite of the bunch. It’s simple, intuitive, and has enough customizable features to please just about everyone. The controls stay out of the way until you need them, and everything runs really smoothly. If you care about good UI design, go with this one.
Price: Readability is completely free on all platforms.
*Tip for the Tweakers
If you’re on a jailbroken iOS device, you can use Readr to send content to your service of choice from just about anywhere: your mobile browser, links in text messages, social media posts, and more. Definitely give it a try if the news or RSS services you use don’t have support for your read it later app.