Facebook's Save It Later Feature Isn't an Instapaper Copycat (Yet)

Facebook has a new feature that sounds a lot like what Instapaper does, but so far, it isn't nearly as useful.

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Facebook has a new feature that sounds a lot like what Instapaper does, but so far, it isn't nearly as useful. The new addition, which the social network calls "save it later" has the general theory of Instapaper behind it, but lacks many of the best parts of the service. Here's how Facebook's will work, according to The Verge's Aaron Souppouris: "Users will soon see a notification letting them know that they can 'press and hold anywhere on a story to save it for later.' Saved stories will appear in users' favorites folder across all their devices." This will be available on both the app as well as the desktop version. That sounds a lot like Instapaper, which lets those who pay for the $4.99 app "save long web pages to read later, when you have time, on your computer, iPhone, iPad, or Kindle," as the site's tagline explains. Instead of hovering, though, the app provides a "read later" bookmark. But still, same idea: Save stuff for later reading. But, there are a few good reasons to stick with Instapaper.

  • Facebook does not mention an offline mode. One of the most useful aspects of Instapaper is that it lets people read stuff on their devices without the Internet. Like, in the subway or on a plane. Or, where data doesn't work very well. People often use the service "in situations with limited or no connectivity" app creator Marco Arment told The Wall Street Journal's Emily Glazer. Facebook mentions saving the articles in a folder within the app, but if it doesn't have offline capabilities, that makes Instapaper a better bet for later reading. Why not prepare for the worst -- and a world without Internet really is the worst, isn't it? Or, at the very least, save on data charges. 
  • Facebook's content is limited by social reader. Though the relative hatred for social reader -- the middle-man app that lets Facebookers read news stories -- is up for debate, at least some people (like BuzzFeed's John Herrman) dislike the product so much that they don't want to use it. To use the "read it later" feature, users must go through social reader. That might not turn you off, but it will limit the content that gets shared. Some people just don't use it. Also, unlike Instapaper, which gives users access to the entire Internet, Facebookers can only see stuff shared from friends. Why not just use the service that gives more? If you find value in what Facebook friends share, just Instapaper that stuff, too. 

But, of course, Facebook could change its app to cater to these needs. It put its Facebook "like" buttons all over the Internet, what's to stop it from extending its read it later options. But, for now, Instapaper doesn't have to worry.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.