Pocket: half full or half empty, same difference

Spoiler alert! Pocket allows you to save web pages and read them offline later. So do most web browsers, but Pocket allows you to view them from your iPhone, Mac and iPad. So does Safari if you synch links through the cloud. But Pocket looks cooler and only adds a few more layers of complexity. At least it’s free. Three stars.

Sometimes I think developers create apps just to create apps. If I were to ask for one app, it would be an app that organizes all my apps, let’s me pick the ones I use and hides the others from iTunes so it doesn’t reload every damn app I ever downloaded when I try to synch just one. I would call it iApp.

But then there would be seven apps just like iApp with several bells and whistles I never thought of and that I probably never use.

The latest wrinkle in app release is to repackage old apps with new names to make them sexier. However, developers make sure you know that this is the same old wife or girlfriend you’ve been sleeping with all along, just sexier. Pocket, this week’s App of the Week, is one of those apps.

Pocket is actually boring old Read It Later, but sexier. But just in case we don’t want to trade up, the developers constantly remind users it’s still Read It Later, but now it’s Pocket. When I opened it up to look under the hood I remembered why I stopped using the app a year ago. It may have served a purpose once, but for the life of me, I don’t think it’s one I need.

Here’s what’s good about Pocket. Whenever you’re browsing online, whether it’s on your Mac, iPhone or iPad, you can save an article to read later when you’re offline. You will be able to find the article on any device you use in a central location.

Of course, you can do that with Safari. As long as you synch your bookmarks, you can find the article in the same place in Safari on any device you use. So why would you use Pocket? Because Pocket is prettier.

Pocket keeps all of your saved links in one location so you can browse them in magazine format. You don’t have to look through your bookmarks, you can save them in one location and organize them any way you please.

If you read the caption above, you know it’s a little more complicated. Pocket makes you articles easier to organize and browse. The interface presents them in article format, and you can mark them as favorites and narrow your browsing to videos, tweets or articles. So, yes, once you open Pocket the app is a little more convenient.

Except that you have to use two apps now. Safari and Pocket. You can also save articles from Chrome or any other browser. But Pocket still adds another layer of organization to your reading. It’s like having a butler, only you’re the butler. Some people will love this. Me, not so much.

It’s also even more complicated than that. You still have to manually email the link to Pocket before their sever will send the link to the app. This means you have to use the email link in your browser and type enough of the address into the field to load the email.

Pocket says you can add a convenient button to your browser bar. Unfortunately, once you read the instructions you discover it’s anything but convenient. In fact, the documentation for adding the button on your iPad or iPhone claims that only advanced users should try and that even advanced users would be better off with the email link.

Then they blame Apple. It may be Apple’s fault for creating complex programming requirements, but I still find it disingenuous to promise a feature and then take it away while blaming someone else.

Pocket claims that you can add a convenient button to your browser bar to save items with one click. Once you try, however, you discover adding the button is anything but convent.

In the end, I suppose there is something to be said for having an attractive magazine style format for browsing offline links. But I will continue to use the “save for later” link in Safari just as I did when I found out how complicated Pocket was when it was still Read It Later.

Jenny Manytoes rates Pocket

Jenny Manytoes would take a nap next to Pocket. Some things are just more trouble than they’re worth unless you really, really want them.

The Jenny Manytoes Rating System

Jenny Manytoes, our polydactyl cat
  • When Jenny makes biscuits on a product she thinks she’s in heaven.
  • When Jenny purrs over a product she’s very happy.
  • When Jenny naps next to a product it’s okay with her.
  • When Jenny bunches her tail she can live with a product, but she has higher expectations.
  • When Jenny leaves it in the litter box….I don’t think I need to explain this one.



About Phillip T Stephens

Phillip T. Stephens disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle twenty years before he was born, creating a time travel paradox so confusing it remains unspoken between physicists and sci-fi writers to this day. Follow @stephens_pt
This entry was posted in 3 Stars - nap, Browsers, Reading, Utilities and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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