App Review - Pocket

There are Apps that do very few things on a select device, really well and there are Apps like Pocket, which does more than a few things, but again really well across multiple iOS devices. To me, Pocket is a link aggregator that aims to be a one stop, shop for all your links (or articles) for a later read. Before I dive into this App review, just to give some context into Pocket's usage, I am going to explain my use case for it a little bit more in detail, as an introduction. 

I was using Google Reader as my primary RSS reader for a while and then google decided to scrap its Reader, as it was not making them enough money. I ended up using Feedly as my RSS reader from then on, after trying out other competitors, of course. So my workflow with the RSS feeds goes like this. I have close to a 100(!) RSS feeds in my Feedly account and I save any article I find interesting or don't have enough time to read at that time, on Pocket, for later. Why don't I read that article on Feedly itself? Because the reading experience on Feedly is not that great. So till there comes an App that does both these, RSS feed management and a decent reading experience, I am going to stick to this dual App workflow.

Saving an article from the Feedly App on the iPhone can be as easy as a long press

Saving an article from the Feedly App on the iPhone can be as easy as a long press

iOS 8 has options to customize the sharing page on any App to include specific third party Apps. Shown here is the Safari's share option page.

iOS 8 has options to customize the sharing page on any App to include specific third party Apps. Shown here is the Safari's share option page.

Pocket is an App that is universal across all Apple platforms, iPhone, iPad and the Mac. Its integration with multiple third party Apps and services (like Feedly, Evernote, etc.) is also top notch. I generally save links to Pocket in two ways, one from the Feedly App (on an iPhone or iPad and a Mac) and two from Safari on any of the Apple devices. While saving an article on the Feedly App, can be configured to be as simple as a long press, a nifty browser extension for the Mac and the new iOS 8 feature enables a save to Pocket option on the share sheet from Safari on any iOS devices.  

Coming to the actual App itself on the iPhone, the home screen of Pocket presents a list of articles that you have saved in a list view with some graphics. The top portion of the view gets populated with some "featured" article (from your list) swipe view. Clicking on any of the articles presents a beautiful reading view that is so optimized for a pure reading experience, but does not screw up the graphics in the article in any way. Clicking on any links embedded in the article opens that link, again inside Pocket in a reading optimized view (unless the article is too complex for a "reading" view, then you can choose to open it with a web view or the view you would get if you open that link of Safari). The bottom of the reading pane has some options like going back to your list or archiving the article or saving it as a Favorite or bring up the share options or more options. The more options ("...") button brings up another menu with options like switching to the web view for the article, refreshing the link for changes, adding tags (for organizing your Pocket list), etc. 

You can search for keywords or tags inside Pocket, within all the articles in the list or even the archived ones. A sidebar presents a few more options to view images, videos, articles, tags, etc. There is a settings page for more generic or universal options like justify text, letting Pocket decide what view suits an article best for reading, etc. Other features of the iOS Pocket app include viewing curated sections of articles on, for example "Apple" or highlights of recently trending topics, etc. 

A nifty save to Pocket button can be installed on Safari for Mac (immediate left of the address bar)

A nifty save to Pocket button can be installed on Safari for Mac (immediate left of the address bar)

A popup confirms that the article has been saved to Pocket, from Safari

A popup confirms that the article has been saved to Pocket, from Safari

While Pocket's Mac App might not win any design awards, it is built right to the point. You can draw parallels between its Mac App and iOS App, in a broad sense. There is a running list panel on the left hand side with all the articles saved in Pocket that syncs seamlessly and in real time between all your other devices. A top menu bar has options like archiving, saving articles as favorites, deleting articles, increasing font sizes, sharing out from Pocket, adding tags to articles, etc. 

Again similar to the iOS App, the articles can be viewed in a reading optimized view or the original web view and Pocket's Mac App has options to share links via a variety of ways. Also Pocket has a safari version of this App that is very similar to its Mac App, for those who do not wish to install a separate App on their Macs, here.

Finally Pocket's iPad App is very similar to its iPhone App and that is a good thing. There are couple of features like viewing the list of articles in a tile or a list view in the iPad App that are different from its iPhone App. But overall the Pocket App experience is similar and fluid across all three Apple devices. 

Conventional wisdom says that you can only be a "Jack of all trades and master of nothing", but Pocket disproves that statement boldly. It is the only App that has seldom crashed in any of the Apple devices for me. It has almost always performed all the syncs in real time across all devices, reliably. It is another App that screams "no bull" and that is exactly the reason I highly recommend the App for everyone, power users and casual ones, alike. 

Conventional wisdom says that you can only be a ‘Jack of all trades and master of nothing’, but Pocket disproves that statement boldly.

The Pocket App is free to download on all platforms and similar to Overcast, it has a "freemium" model, that is done right. For a small monthly fees, Pocket offers some "pro" features like permanent storage of your links, more powerful search and tagging options. But the key to a successful "freemium" App in my opinion is to make the App completely usable in the free version and enhance it further with a paid model on top, and Pocket manages to pull this balance, off perfectly!

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