Switched by a feature

Note: This post isn’t intended to highlight any shortcomings in Instapaper – but I found the unintentional side effects of improving content value in a service interesting!

I’ve been an Instapaper user for several years and love the service. It’s always been reliable and very useful. So when I recently bought a Kindle Paperwhite I was excited to discover that Instapaper can automatically send articles to your Kindle at predefined intervals.

While this is a great feature that really enhances the service, it has also meant that I’ve become far more discerning when choosing what to add to my Instapaper queue. I’ve stopped saving short snippets or how-to articles that I might previously have saved to Instapaper for later reference, simply because I don’t want them showing up on my Kindle.

Instead, I’ve started using a competitive service, Pocket, as a second reading list for those types of articles, allowing me to keep Instapaper solely for long form articles I wish to read on my Kindle.

(There’s probably a way to categorize and filter which articles are pushed to Kindles in Instapaper, but this was also a good excuse to check out the Pocket UX.)

So the Kindle feature has effectively reduced Instapaper into a tool purely for long form articles and actually reduced how much I use it – probably not what @marcoarment intended when he added the feature. On the other hand, I’ll most likely become a subscriber to unlock the additional Kindle features, so perhaps that’s not such a bad result either.

But it does go to show how hard it is to predict a user’s response to new functionality.