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Safari in Lion gets Reading List feature, Instapaper unfazed

updated 11:30 pm EDT, Fri April 29, 2011

Safari Reading List apes Instapaper, Readability

A leak Friday night has shown that Mac OS X Lion when it ships should have a version of Safari borrowing cues from Instapaper, Readability, and other offline web readers. Reading List will let users queue up links and websites for later reading through a combination of HTML and JavaScript. How it would exactly work wasn't said through a MacRumors exploration, but there weren't immediate signs it would sync between devices.

Although some elements are available through digging, the code isn't active yet. As such, it might not show until a later developer preview of Lion or the beta expected to show at WWDC.

The basic concept of saving pages for later bears some similarity to Instapaper, but that service's creator Marco Arment said Friday that the feature was closer to Readability, whose goal is to strip down websites into a less distracting form for reading long articles. While he hadn't used it first hand, his view was that it wasn't directly cloning his work and wouldn't create a conflict of interest. He wasn't certain that it would be a threat even if it added iOS device syncing, in part because apps like Mail and Safari already haven't been competitive in aggregating reading material through their RSS feed tools.

In the Build & Analyze podcast, he likened Apple's move on his territory to that of Starbucks. The coffee shop often deliberately locates itself next to rival stores as a way of luring away business, but its relatively mediocre coffee and long queues ended up driving people back to independents with better products. It made Arment "uneasy," but Apple's tendency to do simple but limited features that didn't satisfy serious users was thought likely to drive users over to Instapaper.

He added that ideas often weren't unique and that the real achievement was simply getting it implemented first, suggesting that he might have beaten Apple to delivering offline, optimized web reading but that he wasn't necessarily first with the idea.

By Electronista Staff


  1. Inkling

    Senior User

    Joined: Jul 2006



    Arment's right. The big plus of Instapaper is that saved webpages can be read on multiple platforms: other Macs/PCs and most smartphones, with synching of what's read. The only feature lacking is synching with Kindles. Compared to that, Safari-only saving isn't much.

  1. chas_m




    And over the years I've come to the conclusion that Apple does this (releases a feature that is sufficient for newbs but lacking in "pro" level stuff) quite deliberately. Safari's "Reader" feature (and if anyone remembers "Sherlock") are both cases in point.

    Those guys who make "menubar iTunes controllers" will probably be next, but the message isn't "Apple will drive you out of business," it's "up your game, fellas."

  1. MacChelsea

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2011


    Starbucks metaphor?

    I don't understand the Starbucks metaphor. If its coffee is mediocre, why the long queue? So is it the mediocre coffee or the popularity that causes the long queues that drive people away? But still in the end you're saying Starbucks is successful as customers are queuing up to buy their coffee. So are you saying Starbucks is successful or a failure?

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