If you're anything like me, you like to read a lot of articles online. Whenever I have a free moment, I find myself reading tech (and other) blogs on both my iPhone and iPad. While sometimes I will share a great article through Twitter, sometimes there are times where I only want to save it for myself. Pocket, formerly known as Read it Later (free, official website link), is a great app for saving your articles to later reading. Often, I will find a great article that I want to read, but don't have time at that moment. In the old days, we used to bookmark pages we liked on Internet Explorer. Nowadays, Pocket will solve this problem.
For my daily reading, I use the news aggregator apps Zite and Prismatic the most. While Prismatic is great and learns what you enjoy reading through inputting your interests, Zite has a “Save to Pocket” feature that I love (in Prismatic, you can save articles within the app, but they will only be saved locally on one device).
Where Pocket will come in handy is when you don't have a wifi or data connection. Pocket will download and save articles for you to read at your own convenience. In order to benefit from this feature, make sure you update all your articles when wifi is handy (All the cafes and bookstores I went to had free wifi). To do so, open Pocket on iPhone and swipe down to update. On the iPad, you will need to tap the circular sync button. You will see a progress bar, and when all the articles are downloaded, it will say “Downloads complete”. Now, all the articles are saved locally to your iDevice.
Set up is not too difficult. Once you establish a password, there are numerous ways to save to Pocket. If you are an avid reader on Safari on iPhone/iPad, there is a way to just mail the link to pocket. Save the addtopocket address and that's it.
You can also set up Pocket with other sources, such as Flipboard, Zite, and Twitter. Instructions are clear. It might seem a bit tedious to get everything set up at first, but once it's done, you don't have to worry about it anymore.
Pocket is already integrated within over 300 apps across all platforms. Here are some of the most popular apps that can be used in conjuction with Pocket:
If you tend to do a lot of reading on your computer (as opposed to on your iDevice), Pocket will email you a link with a download on how to install a bookmarklet, where you can then have one-click saving. On a Mac, it will appear right beside the share (arrow) button and literally only requires a mouse-click to save.
Remember to save your Pocket username (I just use the same username as my Twitter handle) and password. Once all your reading sources are saved, Pocket syncs with all devices, computers or mobile. On the iPad/iPhone, all images are colourful, just like from the original sources. All ads are removed: this feature alone makes it worth using. Videos will not work offline, however.
Once you enjoy an article saved in your Pocket and you'd like to share it with friends or through social media, there are several ways to send it/save it elsewhere:
I have also tried Instapaper and Apple's own “Reading List”. Instapaper is great for longer articles and font and font-sizes can be changed by the user. Instapaper also is a paid-app, at $3.99. Check out this post that compares the two along with Readability. Although Apple's Reading List is also a one-tap feature, it will only be useful for those completely under the Apple ecosystem.
For a service that is completely free, this is a must-have for people who read a lot of articles online from different sources, and would like somewhere where they are all centrally located and available on all devices. It will come in handy if you don't have a data connection (or if you have a small data cap) on your device. You will be able to read to your hearts content on a long commute on a bus/train or on a flight. Once you are done with an article, deleting it is simple: tap the trash can. You can even add tags to your articles so that they can be easily found in the future. Besides tags, you can search words through any words that were in the title of the article. The UI on Pocket is beautiful, and on the iPad, almost reads like a personal magazine of all your favorite articles.
With a good selection of “Read-later” apps available now, I would suggest sticking to one and going with it, or perhaps using them in different capacities (professional development vs. leisure etc.)
Note: If you have a Mac, Pocket also has a Mac App that will sync very nicely with its iOS companion.
Check out this official video from Pocket to further learn about it:
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