Instapaper 5.0 has a updated look and feel, new features for sorting, filtering, and managing your reading queue, and is translated into 13 languages.
Betaworks is getting a ton of work done on Instapaper. With this and the awesome website update recently, I don’t know how I ever could have done all of this myself.
I’m especially glad to see this make it into the update:
Our new Popularity sort is probably the most interesting feature in this update. We used a variety of Instapaper data signals (how many times an article was saved, how often it’s been opened, how often it gets read, and how many likes, saves, and shares it got from users) to calculate a popularity score for each article. Our algorithm then takes that data, applies some weighting and time decay functions, and ranks your queue.
I had a popularity-relevance algorithm ready and running behind the scenes since August 2012, but I never made an interface to it. (I don’t know if they based this on mine, but it sounds similar.) My goal was to anchor a 5.0 update around a few useful applications of it, and bundle in a redesign and some other improvements.
But whenever I started working on 5.0, I was discouraged by the daunting task of doing a major update to an app of Instapaper’s ever-growing scale and complexity, especially as other parts of the service (like the website) were so neglected. I also didn’t have the data-mining or statistical background to implement some parts of the relevance algorithm very well, so it would sometimes yield poor edge-case results and couldn’t live up to its full potential. I was hitting walls everywhere I turned.
Betaworks is doing everything to Instapaper that I wished I could have done. I should have sold it to them a year earlier.