Why instapaper for video as an iOS app is a long ways away

From the first day I created Wacchen people have wanted me to create an app for the iPhone. They wanted something that functions like the instapaper app. I knew from day one that while the idea was the same, there was no way a video for instapaper app could survive in the app store. Now, Wacchen is surrounded by competitors, and even an attempt at an App. I think my time would be better spent else where, so I am seriously changing how Wacchen will work, but I also wanted explain why instapaper for video won’t be in the app store any time soon.

Update:

I shut Wacchen down for a while, but it’s back. I have in a state now that it can run in a mostly unattended fashion

Instapaper as a tool to extend my ability to consume content has been invaluable. Together with things like Google Reader, I feel that I have the beginnings of the tools that I will need to staunch the flow of information. I have never been a worrywart about the amount of information flowing around, but I do know that we need to figure out how to organize a torrent of information into neat little boxes.

For years now, there has been no equivalent for video. There has been a quite, but persistent cry for something like this for years now. You can find it on twitter, blogs, and Instapaper creator, Marco Arments, own forums.

After a fateful, ultimately unsuccessful, interview I built it, quickly. Wacchen was born from a long standing idea stirring in my brain, and the commitment to demonstrate that Rails was not that different from things like Django, infantile, for sure.

Wacchen is like instapaper for video. Arment, the creator of instapaper, has put together an app that’s quite wonderful, and has no doubt spent hours on Instapaper. The amount would make my effort look like a pittance. Even though I know there are probably a million and 1 things that make Instapaper better then Wacchen, and the idea that there is only one major difference is crazy. There is a small difference in how the content is treated. Instapaper has the ability to scrape all the content on the page that you have access too. If you can see it in a browser you can send it to instapaper. If you take apart the bookmarklet you can see how this works, also you can see what kind of data is getting sent back to Instapaper by investigating the HTTP request it makes.

This works for a large range of content, and has made it easier for many people to keep a full copy of all the things they want to read in one place. Then the iPhone app came along, now you could take your full copy and put it on your phone. Now anywhere you had your phone you could read your stuff.

Wacchen works on the same basic principal, you see it in a browser you bookmark it, but the difference is that instead of downloading the video, Wacchen merely figures out how to embed it for you in a central place. Wacchen does not download the videos, but stores references to them.

After I built the site though, I realized what people really wanted was an iPhone app. I knew that would be the best next thing to do, but there was a problem, my app would never stay in the app store for long.

The problem is that video providers are very twitchy about you taking videos offline. It doesn’t matter that you can watch videos in your browser, you are not allowed to take them to go, and are strongly thwarted from trying. It’s clearly not okay, as blah blah, found out after they got revoked from the the app store.I say okay, and not illegal, because being barred from the app store isn’t always a legal question. Even if I wanted to fight the legal battle I would at bare minimum have to fight it without my app being in the app store.

That is where we are, an app that downloads full-text of articles is okay, but an app that downloads full videos is not okay. Mayby someday someone will be able to build full partnership deals, or something but that doesn’t seem likely to happen any time soon.