I've always been a fan of the ReadItLater service on the web, for saving articles to read later when I have the time. There are plenty of other services out there, but I've always found that ReadItLater was the best. A few days ago, RIL re-launched with an entirely new branding: Pocket.
To say the very least, Pocket is great. It's exactly what I've been looking for in a Read Later tool. It's stylish, functional, fast, and best of all, it's smart. Unlike Readability, Pocket knows when to send you the entire webpage instead of the condensed and crawled version. To me, that feature is indispensable. Pocket works on all of my devices: my mac, my iPhone, and even my PlayBook tablet (yes, I still use it). In fact, it looks absolutely stellar on every tablet browser that I've tried it in. The website and the apps for all platforms are extremely well done, and extremely functional to boot.
You can save to Pocket from just about anywhere. It accepts content from any website, crawls it, and figures out what is the focus of the site. It then presents that all to you, the user, in a clean and uninterrupted view on the web and on your favorite device. On iOS, you can save any webpage from the mobile safari bookmarklet, or by using an app, such as Tweetbot and Reeder that already integrate with Pocket. Other apps that at one point integrated with Read It Later also will work with Pocket, no migration required.
The biggest problem that I have with saving in Pocket is the fact that from the website and from the mobile app there is no way to add a link. You can remove a link, edit a link, tag a link; nowhere on the site or in the app is there a way to add one. You have to actually visit the content first before you can add it. Readability had a nice feature on iOS where if you copied a link to the clipboard and opened the app, it would automatically detect the link, and ask if you wanted to add it to your reading list. Hopefully this comes to Pocket at some point in time. It would make the app flow much better.
A great feature of Pocket that no other RL service has is the ability to login to sites that have a "pay wall" around them and fetch their content. Personally, I read the New York Times. Pocket allows me to login to that site through Pocket, so that when I send articled to it, it goes through the paywall and ends up on my reading list, ad free. I've found this to be a great way to get away from the slowness of the NYT app, and read my articles in a way that is clean and easy on the eyes.
Pocket also allows you to organize your saved articles with tags. I haven't played around with tags all that much, as I don't see the need for them. But, for those of you who like to organize what you read, tags are there to help you categorize them, and only read articles in that category.
Pocket has an excellent minimal reading view. It's easy on the eyes, provides ample space for reading, and is very customizable.
When reading in Pocket, you can pop up a reading settings menu from the settings button. It allows you to set text size, font, screen brightness, and even switch to night mode (black background on white text). These controls provide for perfect reading in just about any environment. Along with this, simply tapping once on the text of the article makes all of the controls and status bar go away, leaving only the article content on the screen for you to read.
I find this fullscreen mode to be great. When reading in other apps, like Fliboard and NYT, a lot is left to be desired. The interfaces are cluttered and hard to read. Pocket just flows. It all fits together, and looks fantastic.
Pocket, for me at least, has made reading on my iPhone actually enjoyable. Usually I feel constrained and cramped by the small screen on my phone, but reading in Pocket, I don't feel that way at all. I feel like it's roomy, and there's plenty of space to read. I believe that was one of the main goals of the redesign: to make it feel good. That succeeded with flying colors.
Pocket comes chock full of ways to share. It can send articles to basically any web service: Facebook, twitter, Google+; whatever you want. It's great for sending an article or video to a friend, a relative, or just posting it to your personal blog. The sharing feature is great.
Like I said in my first tweet about Pocket, Pocket is great. I can't stress this enough. If you've never used a Read Later service before, or are using a different one right now, check out pocket. With plenty more features and improvements on the way, I can't wait to see what the guys at pocket can cook up.
With Pocket in your pocket, you can't go wrong.
Arthur Rosa is an engineering manager based in Sunnyvale, California.