Instapaper is one of my favourite iOS app’s. If you haven’t heard of it before it allows you to store articles and longer form content for reading back later on your iOS device, or on the website. It also cleans up the content, stripping out adverts, sidebars etc allowing you to focus on the content. I love it.

Instapaper newly updated for retinae iPad. Click for lots of pixels!

The app and service is produced and maintained by Marco Arment and he blogs openly and honestly about Instapaper and how it has eveolved over the last few years. Once Instapaper got some traction competitors to the service were launched. On iOS and Android you can use ReadItLater which has similar features to Instapaper but is supported across more platforms. Another service is Readability which has been around for a few years but only recently launched an iOS application. They initially were a browser plugin service that Apple also included in Safari to clean up content similarly to Instapaper. A few weeks ago they launched their own iOS app which was similar to Instapaper but without the friends and recommended reading features. However the app looked, in my opinion, gorgeous and featured some great typography to customise your reading experience. Marco blogged about it – Learning from competition.

He admitted Readability had stolen a march in the looks front and made Instapaper look tired. It also fired him up, hence the quick response with Instapaper 4.1 launching yesterday. Competition is good, certainly from a consumer perspective. Bing was good for Google, Google+ is good for Facebook. So how did Readability feel about it?

Timothy Meaney is a strategist at Arc90, the team behind Readability. While he’s every entitlement to feel a bit pissy about features being copied, it’s a font choice. Nothing more. It’s styling – nothing more. To tweet copycat is pretty childish. What’s more, looking back to 2009 when Readability first started, Arc90 had a blog post describing the service. The best part is this quote:

Our latest experiment was partly inspired by Marco Arment’s awesome Instapaper application (and equally awesome Instapaper iPhone app). We hope you enjoy this little tool. If you find any issues, feel free to comment on our blog.

So it’s OK for Readability to be inspired…but competitors are copycats. Good job guys. To be fair Meaney did apologise:

Still, Readability beaing dickish about this will live long in the memory. Looks like I’ll be sticking with Instapaper and recommending it ahead of Readability from now on.