For the Connected Missionary

Missionary Geek

A couple of years ago when I first got my smartphone I tried a service called Instapaper. The idea is that you could send a web page through Instapaper and read the content on a mobile device. One of the really nice features was that you didn’t need to set up an account and log in each time. Somehow it just worked…mostly. I used it for a while, but I didn’t always get the items that I clipped to it. It was too simplistic to work consistently well.

Instapaper logo

Recently I was in a situation where the idea of Instapaper was exactly what I needed. I was studying Romans 8 and had several web pages loaded on my computer with study materials. I needed to take a train trip and wanted to continue working on my studies, but would not have Internet access. Nor would I be taking my computer. I was pleasantly surprised to see Instapaper was still available and the service seems to be greatly improved.

You now have to create an account and log in. I think this causes the service to work more consistently. I downloaded the application for the iPhone which cost $4.99. I rarely spend money on applications, but it was almost worth that price just for the one train trip. Using the browser plugin, I was able to save the pages I was reading to my Instapaper account.

Features of Instapaper

When you send something through your account you create a bookmark inside the Instapaper web service which allows you to get back to that page easily. However, if you use an iPhone/iPad, Android phone or Amazon Kindle you can send just the content of the web page to your device. You don’t have to load up all the surrounding material. For example, if you are looking at a blog post that you want to read later, you can send it to Instapaper and get just the blog post without the sidebar, header and footer information.

It is easy to send items to Instapaper through their browser plugin. You can also send stories from some RSS readers to your Instapaper account. These readers include Google Reader and NetNewsWire. There are also more than 140 iPhone applications which will let you send content through your Instapaper account.

If you are going to clip things to your phone or Kindle, but will be going some place where you won’t have Internet access, then you need to sync the application with your account before leaving home. Many applications are being developed with the assumption that everyone always has Internet access. With Instapaper you can load up your device with content and not need a connection to the Internet to read the information.

When you set up your account you can find a special email address that you can forward emails to which will get clipped to your Instapaper account. This lets you send those long once-a-year family update emails to be read at a more convenient time without having to dig through your email to find it. This is also convenient if you have copy and pasted information instead of sending the text of a single web page.

Instapaper for iPhone

The official Instapaper app costs $4.99. There may be other applications that you can use, but I have only used the company’s application. This app also works for the iPad.

Instapaper for Android

Instapaper has an API which allows other developers to tie into their service. Therefore, there are several applications for Android devices with which you can read your Instapaper clippings. I don’t have an Android device, but from reviews I have read it seems that InstaFetch and iPaper are two of the more popular apps.

Instapaper for Kindle

Want to read on your Kindle? There is a way to do that too. Set Instapaper to deliver new stories to your Kindle’s “free” address each day or each week. This will only deliver through WiFi. If you use the regular Kindle address it will deliver through your wireless account (if you have one) and it will incur a fee.

Why Use Instapaper?

I am a big fan of Evernote. Many of the Instapaper features are available in Evernote. So why use two services when there is already one which can do the job? For me, Instapaper is for items that I want to read once and then throw away. You can archive information in Instapaper, but it isn’t as easy to search and find later like it is in Evernote. However, the items I read through Instapaper are not items I want to keep. With Evernote I have an interest in using the information again in the future, or at least want the option to do so.

The next time you need to grab a bunch of reading material off the web to study when you are away from your computer, consider Instapaper as a way to send that information to one of your more portable devices.

About the author

David is a missionary working with the Deaf. His focus is helping churches in Latin America start ministries for the Deaf in their communities. He currently lives with his wife and kids in Mérida, México. David also serves as the Director of Deaf Ministries for his mission board, Baptist International Outreach.

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