As Bakari previously reported, the well loved Read It Later – which enabled users to save articles to read later from a bookmarklet or various apps it was integrated with – was discontinued and replaced with a new, free service called Pocket. Let’s take a closer look at Pocket today and what makes it the ultimate digital bookmarking service.
Integration & Device Neutrality
Saving something to your Pocket account couldn’t be simpler thanks to the bookmarklets, browser extensions, and over 280 apps it’s currently integrated with. If all else fails, simply email a link to firstname.lastname@example.org from the address you registered with, and it’ll go straight to your account.
Pocket also supports a multitude of devices with iOS, Android, Kindle Fire apps, as well as a web interface for reading your saved items. There’s even unofficial clients for obscure platforms like WebOS, Windows Phone and Blackberry.
I don’t have an Android to test on, but the iPad app is beautiful, and simple. It’s lacking in any advanced gestures for navigation though, which may be offputting when there are so many apps like Reeder and Alien Blue Reddit client that have made a real effort to use touch gestures.
Beyond Text With Videos & Pictures
Read It Later was focused entirely on the reading experience. Pocket expands this to include root level filters for videos and pictures too. Videos and pictures are automatically recognized from specific sites such as YouTube or Flickr, but unfortunately the browser bookmarklet doesn’t allow you to manually specify if you want just a certain image from any random page to be saved, and will default to saving it as an article.
Tagging is a nice feature but only available in the web app once items have already been saved. I was expecting to be able to tag things as I saved them, but apparently not. Making it a two step process is a chore, and I really hope they fix this in a similar way to how the Pinterest extension works. With the new tagging feature, this app is no longer just a consumption device, but can essentially be used as a bookmarking service similar to Delicious (in fact, you can even import your Delicious bookmarks).
To tag items, first open the web app. Click the tag sidebar icon in the bottom right and select “untagged” to allow you to quickly narrow down items you’ve yet to tag.
Adding individual tags is simple in list mode (make sure you’re not viewing gallery mode). Just hover over the item, and an “Add Tag” label will appear.
To begin tagging a large number of your untagged items, enter bulk edit mode from the button on the far left (an upward arrow, and a fat pencil).
From the bulk edit screen, click to highlight saved items, type in your tags, and hit the Save Changes button. The Add Tags ‘button’ is actually just a selection box for the action to perform with the tags you entered. It’s far from intuitive unfortunately, but I’m sure this will change as the service evolves.
I rarely used Read it Later before because my RSS reader alone was sufficient for a clean reading experience, but the great thing about the evolved Pocket service is that not only can it act as a clean reading experience, it also expands to cover video and pictures, and adds tagging. It’s become a complete digital scrapbook – a personal and private Pinterest board; a device-independent bookmarking service; a collection of recipes; a queue for YouTube videos you want to watch later; a place to store links to stuff I want to buy. The point is, you can use it as you wish, and it’s precisely this adaptability that I believe will make it everyone’s favourite new app.
Pure speculation perhaps, but I can see definite similarities between this service and Pinterest. Right now Pocket is a private experience, but if social elements were added at some point, and perhaps even the ability to make certain tagged items open to the public? There’s just so much potential here. The question of monetization is important too – I’m sure they’re able to provide metrics to companies and sites on the most saved items by their users; but will we see advertising, or limits placed on the free version along with the launch of a premium service? Who knows.
For now, this is one incredible app. It has combined bookmarking and evolved Read It Later to cover far more than just text. A superb service, device neutral, and completely free. Download now!
Let us know in the comments what you think of it.