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Capturing content from native iPad news apps for offline reading is a common problem because InstaPaper is not easily integrated into these apps like it is into Safari and other web browsers. I assert that news app makers should give careful thought to how they can use local storage to improve user experiences, especially in offline scenarios.

If you love InstaPaper like I do, here are a few tips that may help.

  • The most likely of all the tips to be helpful is the mail-to-instapaper tool. This allows you to email anything to your InstaPaper account. Login to your InstaPaper account in a web browser and click on Extras – the last “extra” on the page will give you your unique InstaPaper email submission address. I added my InstaPaper address to my contacts list on iPhone and iPad so I can use this feature quickly from any app.
  • There are some gotcha’s with the USA Today app and the email-to-instapaper approach. If you click on a specific article and then email it, USA sends the entire front page of the newspaper regardless of which article is being viewed in the app – this is silly of course. Once you have the front page in InstaPaper on iPad, you can select the articles you really want to read later and the InstaPaper app will happily capture them for you in a single click. This makes the process of capturing the full article a two-step deal, but it works quite well.
  • I have successfully used InstaPaper and the mailto extra with other news apps including Reuters, New York Times, WSJ, Economist, and Appolicious.
  • An alternative approach — if the article can be viewed on a single screen, take a snapshot (photo image). This puts it into your local photo storage for later reading. Use the on/off + home button to do this. In some news apps it’s possible to shrink the content display, then take the snapshot, and resize it larger when reading later on.

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