Thursday, April 19, 2012

Pocket for iOS and Android review

Pocket-screenshot_2196649b If you count yourself among the multitudes who have too much to read and not enough time to read it, then take heart, because a (not-so)-new app has come to your rescue.

Countless apps already exist to tackle this problem - Read it Later, Instapaper, Delicious, Readability, Send to Reader and many others let you save articles from the web, Twitter, and anywhere else to look at later. But there always seems to be a catch. Read it Later and Instapaper are fantastically ubiquitous and come integrated into Twitter, Flipboard and hundreds of apps - but you have to pay for offline syncing. Readability looks elegant and is great to use on a computer, but saving articles to it from a device is cumbersome. And Delicious stopped being great a few years ago.

Luckily, one of these apps decided to get smart and make a change: enter Pocket, the new incarnation of Read it Later. The developers have done something unusual for the app world - they redesigned their product without completely ruining it. Pocket works with your Read it Later account, displays the same archive and articles, automatically works with older Read it Later browser add-ons, and is easy on the eye.

But Pocket is more than just a new lick of paint on a reading list. As ever, article text is clean and fuss-free. The Mobile phone app has a similar layout to before, but it now shows thumbnail images and nicer fonts. For larger devices, Pocket lays out your saved items into a grid format, Flipboard-style, reminding you that lists are truly boring on larger screens. It now lets you see this layout in your browser as well, so people without tablet devices can also navigate their saved articles in a newspaper-like way. Best of all, offline syncing is now free - surely the clincher.

The app isn't without its tics. While Pocket doesn't require new accounts from Read it Later users, it's confusing to have to download an entirely separate app when the browser add-on automatically works. And actually finding the grid of your articles on the web is a tricky task.

It will also be interesting to see if this re-branding exercise works. 'Read it Later' is a great title for this type of app - it does what it says on the tin. The name 'Pocket' allows for an oh-so-clever new slogan - 'When you find something you want to view later, put it in Pocket' - but it says nothing about what the app does. Let's see if Read it Later's already 4.5 million-strong user base can make the cognitive switch when they next look for the app on their phones.

I for one was already one of the 4.5m people using Read it Later, but I found I never had time to check my saved items. Some of the things on my list were old enough to have facial hair or secret boyfriends. Perhaps a new layout and offline syncing is just what I need to give the app another chance.

The Telegraph

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