Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Full Instapaper API now available (instapaper.com)
154 points by ggordan on Feb 10, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 33 comments

From the Terms of Use:

Apps may not use users’ Instapaper data or other personal data in any way that a reasonable person would likely deem “creepy” or otherwise unacceptable. Instapaper reserves the right to decide whether an app’s usage of users’ data is creepy.

I believe it's related to this article by Gruber: Creep Executive Officer


I was quite happy when I saw this, as I have been using a different unofficial client to use my Instapaper account on my Android app.

Unfortunately one of it's nicest features is the ability to sync and download it's content in the background. I am very disappointed to see that the api tos especially for forbid this.

Combine this with the ability of sites to opt out of Instapaper and the prohibitation against automatically adding things to the user account from an rss feed and my use for Instapaper has pretty much disappeared.

I understand the need for Marco to make money on this, and I hope you make so much money of this that you can swim in it, but frankly the way to do this is not to deliver a crippled service - it's to charge what you are worth, which is far more than one dollar.

The only reason to charge one dollar is to make it to the top of the iphone sales charts. It's not really a viable strategy anywhere else.

Looking at the terms of use, I couldn't find any prohibiting downloading its content for offline use. As I understand it, there appear to be two semi-related rules:

* Don't make multiple simultaneous API calls.

* Each thing added must be a result of a specific user action. I'm not sure whether this applies to things retrieved from the API.

Also, the dollar per month is for the subscription service, not the purchase of the Instapaper iOS app. Current Instapaper for iOS app users do not need the subscription service, but users who use apps that use this new API will.

API access for subscribers only is a really interesting idea. I'm curious how it will play out. Are there examples of other apps using a similar scheme?

The Spotify API has the same restriction.

Simplenote (YC 10) uses a similar throttled API http://simplenoteapp.com/premium/

Remember the Milk

Which I pay for for the exact reason Instapaper users will pay a subscription for their service.

I like the option he chose.

This has the effect that non-iPhone users who want an instapaper client on their phone will have to have a subscription and possibly pay for the mobile app.

In a sense, having an iPhone is akin to having a free subscription (at least for now)

Yes, I think that's the only problem ... Now Instapaper iOS users will be worried that they will have to pay for a subscription in the future.

I don't think I'm in the minority in saying that being charged for Instapaper would actually be, in some ways, a relief. It transformed how I read online things, brought whole new levels of usability to my iDevices, and while if Marco ever went insane and shut it down I'm sure there would be a million competitors to fill the void.

But the second he wants me to pony up, I'm in.

Very good point there. And with the new Readability project, I'd expect he'd tie any required subscription in with a way to give back to the writers if he did require one. Still, he said the iOS apps are remaining free, so no problem there really.

Has anyone here subscribed to Readability yet and added it to your Instapaper account?

Instapaper has had an optional $1/mo subscription for quite a while now...

And despite following Marco.org on RSS managed to not notice that! It sounds like it is certainly not being aggressively marketed on established users, but hey, I wasn't kidding above.

This is a very interesting compromise. I wonder if it will have the side effect of confusing users who are not subscribed (and may not even realize what "subscription" means). It could backfire especially if a third party paid app is released. "What do you mean I have to pay for a subscription? I paid for the app!"

Still, a smart move for keeping Instapaper profitable (or at least to keep the API from eating at Instapaper's profits).

They should have an API for creating subscription accounts with an already registered credit card.

That way 3rd party apps can create new keys and issue them to their users transparently.

I think the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act [1] made this impossible in the US. Instapaper would be a third party seller and would be bound by new data pass rules:

(2) the post-transaction third party seller has received the express informed consent for the charge from the consumer whose credit card, debit card, bank account, or other financial account will be charged by--

(A) obtaining from the consumer-- (i) the full account number of the account to be charged; and (ii) the consumer's name and address and a means to contact the consumer;


(B) requiring the consumer to perform an additional affirmative action, such as clicking on a confirmation button or checking a box that indicates the consumer's consent to be charged the amount disclosed

[1] http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d111:S3386:

I'd better elaborate here. No, I do not suggest that the 3rd party APIs should pass customer credit cards to instapaper before recieving an API key.

Instead Instapaper should allow developers (or any user) to have more than than one API key/subscription associated with a single card or account. That way if I'm a 3rd party developer, I can create 100 subscriptions myself, and attatch them individually to each program I release to a customer.

The customers information never goes to Instapaper.

My account can be pre-billed if that's what it takes to stay within fincance regulations, but once there's a certain amount prepaid into the account I should be able to create a working subscription key via api.

One benefit of this is that Instapaper doesn't have to worry about dealing with front-line customers---that's the 3rd party developers responsibility. If one customer overuses the API, Instapaper can just cut them off and leave the investigation up to the 3rd party developer.

The fact that cheapskates will complain is no reason not to do it.

Not understanding terms of service != cheapskates

It's very reasonable for a person to expect that once he paid for the app, he would be able to use it without having a separate subscription paid to a different company.

I'm interested in seeing how these apps clarify this point to users.

It wouldn't be the first time an app acts as a front-end to a foreign web service. Take all those editors which save to Dropbox, for example.

Right - but being able to use those apps doesn't require a paid subscription from Dropbox.

Yay! We can now finally have an offline Mac client.

I've always hoped Marco would do this on his own, but I can't fault him for focusing his time where he does.

Damn, literally as I read this article my mind was working on how quickly I could build a Windows Phone 7 app to take advantage of this.

Turns out not quick enough. I think this is the best way to approach an API for non VC backed start ups.

I wonder how much of this was sped up due to Readability's rapid march into Instapaper's territory (e.g. https://www.readability.com/publishers/api/)

Considering the fact that Marco is an advisor, and the upcoming Readability iOS app is "powered by Instapaper", I'd assume not much.

Readability may be marching into Instapaper's territory, but by all reports, Marco is welcoming them with open arms and a bouquet of flowers:


The thing is that if I am using Readability already I wouldn't subscribe to Instapaper. Of course, readability may have paid back $1 from your $5 to Instapaper if you make the accounts from both to be synchronized.

Another thing is, since Readability's apps will be "powered by" Instapaper, Marco may make money from Readability subscriptions too. We of course don't know right now, but it is possible/likely.

The thing is, some features in the new Readability is exactly the same as Instapaper. This already sound odd enough for me. I just wonder why don't they get themselves under the same umbrella.

I clicked on this thinking it was Instagram, I'm still waiting to hear back on the dev API registration :(

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact