One of the biggest boons to your productively on the web can be the Read-it-Later apps. These apps enable you to skim articles, blogs, tweets, or YouTube videos and grab them for later review. Not only do the apps bookmark the articles, they also clean them up into simple text and graphics, stripping out the ads and other crap so you can concentrate on the message. They allow articles to be read offline and are available for phones and tablets, making it easy to consume this content anywhere.
With the release of iOS8, Pocket has taken the read-it-later experience to an orgasmic level. It has done this using two new OS features, Extensibility and Handoff.
On the new Pocket iPhone app, when you read an article (beautifully presented and just right for reading) and you press the share icon at the bottom, you are presented with customizable options to send the article to Evernote, Twitter, Buffer, etc. Pocket has its own sharing list, but tapping “More” gives you choices of any app that is building a share option for iOS 8. Facebook and Twitter were there in the past, but now other apps have the ability to be added to this list. To get the same before, you might have had to open the article in Safari and used a bookmarklet to get it shared where you wanted. The new approach cuts out several steps.
This integration has been added to Safari as well. Now when you are on a web page and your plane boards, or whatever interruption takes you away, you can use the native iOS share menu to save it to Pocket and even add tags to help you manage your content. It’s all very fluid and frictionless.
Now to Handoffs. Handoffs allows you to take a task you’re working on – editing a Pages document, for example – and seamlessly pick it up on the next device. Very cool unless you are working on porn and bring it up accidentally in a meeting. Pockets has enabled this so if you are reading an articles on your iPad, you can pick it up right at the same place on your iPhone later. It’s like gliding. Of course, you have to live in the Apple ecosystem to enjoy it and it’s still to come with the Yosemite OS update on Apple computers, but you can see the promise. Pocket is one of the first and smoothest implementations of both Extensibility and Handoffs. Bravo.
Several people who make me look casual and disorganized have integrated Pocket into complex workflows to manage their knowledge and capture it. Here’s an example that is driven by IFTTT which collects articles and then shares them. Here’s another using Pocket as a kind of intermediary clearing house for web research and clippings (credit here to the image at the top of this post). Personally, I’d prefer to be little more manual and selective about it, more like the second example.
What’s really interesting is that the best Pocket experience is on mobile now. That’s where you can grab the article, tag it, read it, and file it in Evernote (as one example). In more direct terms – the mobile experience has passed the browser experience. On the browser you can’t send to Evernote without using IFTTT or clumsily opening the webpage and then capturing it again. Pocket has knocked it out of the park on this update.
P.S. Let’s not forget Instapaper, an old favorite of mine. Instapaper has awesome type and display options and a an impressive new highlights feature. It’s got a stripped down UI that focuses cleanly on what it does. It has added Extensibility as well and may even have more integration options than Pocket, making it a strong alternative.by