Instapaper makes its premium features free

Pinterest could have killed read-it-later service Instapaper, but instead the company made it free.

A giant social network buying a popular service and then killing it is pretty common. But a giant social network buying a popular service and then making its best features totally free? That’s almost unheard of. But just two months after Pinterest bought Instapaper, the company is doing away with the read-it-later app’s subscription costs. Its premium tier is now totally free.

Pinterest banished ads from Instapaper on the web and made premium features like unlimited notes and speed-reading, full-text search for all articles, text-to-speech playlists, and more available to all users, not just paying ones.

Some loyal Instapaper fans wondered: Is there a catch?

“There’s no catch,” Instapaper CEO Brian Donohue said in the comments section of the company’s announcement blog post. “Our operational overhead is low, and now that we’re owned by Pinterest we can focus on just delivering the best product to our users.”

Long-time Instapaper users remember that iOS developer Marco Arment created the app back in 2008 before selling it to Betaworks in 2013. While some worried that Pinterest’s acquisition of Instapaper over the summer signaled that the end was near, Donohue promises that Instapaper will continue to use Pinterest’s resources to improve the overall experience.

The app has always been a Macworld favorite, and doing away with the $2.99/month cost for premium features makes the app more competitive with Pocket, a rival read-it-later service.

Current Instapaper subscribers will receive prorated refunds on their subscriptions.

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Caitlin McGarry

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