Readability is a close cousin of Instapaper: both beautifully and minimally designed “read it later” apps built right here in New York. The two have even collaborated. But while Instapaper’s Marco Arment dropped the free version of his app and now charges everyone $4.99, Readability just announced it’s dropped the paid version and making all its features, which included unlimited access to reading list, favorites and an archive, for free.
Like Instapaper, Readability scrapes text from web pages and strips it of ads and tangential content for a more pleasant reading experience on the iPhone, iPad, Nook or Kindle. “First, we wanted to better distinguish the difference between having access to features and supporting content creation,” CTO Chris Dary wrote on the Readability blog.“Second, we wanted to keep Readability as open as possible so that third-party integrators to our service can access all of our features as well, without limitations.”
Readability distinguishes itself from Instapaper by shuttling subscription fees back to publishers. The subscription fee is now optional, and “the dollars you can now optionally pay are purely for supporting us and writers.” No premium, no freemium; just a suggested donation.
Last year Readability got into a tiff with Apple, which before then had loved Readability so much it integrated the technology into Safari, after the App Store policy changed to disallow subscription-based apps that did not use Apple’s in-app purchase system. Making the app free is one way to get around the problem.