last updated: 2 September 2018 (approximate reading time: 4 minutes; 703 words)
I have a limited number of apps and services that I use several times a day. One of those is Pocket.
I use Pocket much in the same way that I use a video recorder…but for reading. It allows me to save articles so that I can read them at a time that suits me. If I see something I want to read I click save to Pocket and the article is available when I want to read.
Let me explain a bit more about how I use Pocket and what makes it so important for me.
How to Save to Pocket
The internet brings a torrent of information. As this torrent washes by, I try to identify any article that may be interesting. I save these articles of interest to Pocket so that I can read them later.
The saving process is essentially a button click, but there are different buttons to click depending on where I am when I trip over something that I might want to read:
- If I’m at my computer, then I’ve got an add-in for my browser which I click.
- With my phone, some apps have a save to Pocket feature built in.
- For those apps without the save to Pocket feature, regular sharing comes in—I share to Pocket and the article is saved.
And the sharing from apps can be quite sensible—Twitter is a good example here. If I share a tweet and the tweet has a link, then Pocket will save the linked document.
How to Read Saved Articles
Once I’ve saved some articles, then I can get reading. And I can read these articles anywhere and at any time—I just need to open up the Pocket app. I usually read on my phone but you might equally read on a tablet/iPad, or even on your computer (if you really want).
I may have saved an article while sitting at my desktop computer with a large screen, but with Pocket I can read that piece on my phone while I’m in the queue at the supermarket.
For me, the ability to time and location shift is the most significant benefit of Pocket. I can read at a time that suits me—and, because I will always have my reading list with me since it is available on my phone, if I have a few spare minutes, then I can turn straight to my reading list.
Pocket brings together everything I want to read in one list and if I have a chunk of time, then I can get through a number of articles swiftly. Equally, I can decide that I don’t want to read one or more items on my list. In this case, all I have to do is hit the delete button.
Articles viewed in the Pocket app are optimized for reading.
Pocket attempts to strip out everything that is not the text you want to read. So the adverts are removed, the banners and logos are removed, the menus are removed, and the sidebars are removed.
Sometimes the cleaning is a bit extreme and some of what you want to see gets cut—but this is rare and you always have the option to view the original web page. Sometimes the app can’t figure what is the important material, in which case it will show you the original page.
Pocket also makes an attempt to join multi-page articles and give a single block of text without next page links. For more popular websites this is often quite successful. For more niche websites and sites with complex article-by-article layouts, this refactoring can be more challenging.
What Else Does Pocket Do?
There are other functions that Pocket offers, such as:
- foldering to organize articles
- tagging to allow more detailed curation
- a sharing/follower network
- a way to discover new material
I know it does this…but I never use those features. For me, Pocket is all about read later/read anywhere, but you might find these features interesting and useful.
If you don’t like Pocket, there are alternatives, perhaps the most widely used is Instapaper.
And Not to Forget
If you’re reading on your phone/tablet, you can always read books. I can recommend a few…