Pocket: Read Later, Read Better
Over the past few months, I’ve found myself increasingly relying on my phone as my first source for news. Sure, I still glance over an analog newspaper now and then, and sometimes I read news on my laptop, but I consume the majority of my news on my phone via apps like Pulse and Flipboard (which I will review later on in this series).
I do a great deal of my news reading in short bursts—during quiet moments at work, commercial breaks when Mad Men is on, or other brief spare moments. Because of the limited time I allot myself to read the news, much of my ‘reading’ is actually browsing. If I actually open an article, I usually just skim it for the relevant points rather than reading every word. Sometimes, though, I’ll stumble across an article that I want to read completely but that is too long to fit into one of my little news breaks. Enter Pocket.
Pocket is a great little app that simplifies your online reading experience by allowing you to save articles and pages to read later. It’s basically like DVR for online reading. The best part about Pocket? It integrates with all of the apps you already use. Twitter, Reeder, Flipboard, Pulse, and over 300 more—and you can even email things to Pocket or save things from your mobile browser. It’s so simple. With one touch, you can save an article. No more emailing yourself or favoriting tweets just to remember the links. No more trying to remember in which app you saved which article. Pocket makes everything easier by compiling the articles and pages you want to save in one convenient place.
When you’ve got some extra time and you’re ready to read some of the articles you saved, just open up Pocket and start reading. Pocket syncs across devices, so you can read from your phone, iPad, laptop, or e-reader. If you choose to read from your laptop’s browser, clicking on one of the articles will send you to the original link. If you read on the mobile app, Pocket strips out the original styling of the article and presents the content in a simple, text-focused design. This is really handy on small mobile devices like the iPhone where styling often works against legibility (there is an option to view articles in their original format, but I never use it).
Pocket even gives you some basic choices in terms of styling. You can set your preferences for font size, serif, screen brightness, and display color, but I haven’t touched those options. Pocket’s defaults work just fine for me.
When you’ve read an article, you can either tap the trashcan to delete it or tap the check mark to archive it. Deleting an article removes it from Pocket completely; archiving it removes it from the main feed but saves a copy in the archive in case you want to view it again later. If you really want to get crazy, there are also options to favorite, tag, and share articles.
Pocket is particularly useful for saving longer feature articles, like those you might find in The New Yorker or Longreads, but it also works well for saving web pages, videos, and photos. Pocket does have competitors—Instapaper, for example—but I have not used them, so I cannot speak to how Pocket’s features rate in comparison. But I do know of one area in which Pocket wins unequivocally: price. Pocket is free, while Instapaper will set you back a hefty $3.99. I don’t know about you, but I’m not big on spending money on apps if I can find a similar app for free.
Overall, Pocket is a great app. I’m definitely a fan. Come to think of it, I can’t think of one complaint. The app does what I want it to do in an efficient and beautiful manner. Who could ask for more? I’d recommend it to anyone who does a lot of online reading, especially if they regularly use one or more of the 300+ apps with which Pocket is integrated. Give it a shot. You’ll love it.