I’ve been a huge fan of Pocket, probably the best known of the “save it for later” apps, for a year. It seems I’m not alone: Pocket has accrued 17 million registered users, and one billion items have been saved to its repository.
Pocket is a very clean, eye-pleasing app that wins on simplicity and functionality. See something you like on your desktop? Use the Pocket extension to save it – and file with multiple tags of your choice. Same goes from your phone browser, and many apps. When you’re ready to read, you don’t need to be online to do so – making it great for commuting or other downtime.
It does have its competitors, both in apps like Instapaper and in Facebook’s own Save Link feature and Apple’s Newsstand. Indeed, Facebook is not one of the 1,500 apps (like Flipboard, Twitter and Zite) to integrate with Pocket, making it hard to save from – irritating, as that’s where I find my most randomly interesting articles.
Using a tagging system has proven illuminating. My content focus is on – well, content, and writing – and on technology, mindfulness, yoga, finance, property, recipes – and cleaning tips.
Using my saved content, Pocket recommends other content to me. I was recommended Mark Twain’s Top 7 Tips for a Simple and Productive Life (tick), Mobile and the Death of PC (tick) and a New Yorker article on politics (fail).
But content discoverability is still a weakness. Pocket’s Highlights – whereby it showcases content you’ve saved (if you have saved enough) that it deems most relevant – still doesn’t work, despite me having 250 articles saved. It also recently added Recommendations, so you can share your own favourite articles and follow others.
The app is free; a premium version costs US$44.99 a year and gives you a permanent library of all articles and pages you save, so they remain accessible even if the original page changes. When the half-life of an article is only 18 months, that could prove very useful.
What stops me from really embracing Pocket is the fear of losing my archive (unless I fork out for premium) when the internet is still so young and ever-changing. So although Pocket appears to be a deep pocket, I’ll probably keep mailing myself the best links too.
Who’s behind Pocket?
San Francisco programmer Nate Weiner created Pocket (then called the straightforward Read It Later) as a Mozilla Firefox browser extension in 2007.
Any famous fans?
Ashton Kutcher is one of the investors who have collectively sunk $7m into Pocket. “It allows people to never miss a moment because it acts as a DVR for our digital lives,” he says. “Pocket gets that the right time isn’t always right now.”
Is it well rated?
It’s got 5 stars in the iTunes store, 4.5 on Google Play, 4.5 on the Chrome Web Store, and has won two major awards – a Webby for best productivity app last year and a Google Material Design Award this year.
Any good Pocket tips?
If an app you’re using doesn’t support Pocket, you can send links to firstname.lastname@example.org. Pocket also plugs into IFTTT to help you move articles from place to place – for instance, saving links from Twitter favourites direct to Pocket, or to send Pocket links to Evernote for long-term storage.
Make sure the entire article has downloaded before you close down, otherwise Pocket won’t save the entire article – a pain to discover when you’re offline later and ready to read.
What are people saving?
Interestingly, Pocket’s analysis found the average article length is a chunky 3,190 words – a 15-minute read. People don’t save breaking news, for instance, but a more detailed aftermath commentary and analysis. So much for listicles.
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