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Pocket (for iPad) Review
Pocket is the easiest, fastest iPad tool for clipping Web content for offline consumption, on a variety of devices and platforms. Also handy for taking stock of items you come across online.
(3.5 out of 5)
- Gorgeous, minimalist interface
- Cross-platform syncing
- Informs you of which installed apps supports Pocket
- Lets users watch video inline.
- No offline video consumption due to YouTube
- Syncing can be slow
- Confusing bookmarklet setup.
Ever wish you could indulge in your iPad Web browsing addiction during a connection-less train ride? Pocket, the app formerly known as Read It Later, is a lightweight utility that lets you save Web content for offline consumption on a variety of devices including tablets, smartphones, and desktops. Sure, iPad reading apps like Google Currents (Free, 3.5 stars) let you read when you’re offline, but they’re limited to the publications to which you subscribe. Pocket, on the other hand, saves content to Apple’s tablet from a variety of sources, syncs it across platform (iOS, Android, desktop), and makes it available for offline use (except video). The app suffers from slow syncing and a confusing bookmarklet setup, but it’s a solid app for Web consumption.
Add Content to Your Pocket
Once you’ve installed Pocket and created an account, you can start adding Web content to your “pocket.” There are three sources from which you can save material: from within your apps and mobile browsers, from your desktop browsers, or through email.
Thankfully, you don’t have to hunt blindly for supported apps; tapping the “How to Save” icon displays the compatible apps you’ve downloaded to your iPad, as well as offering a mobile Safari bookmarklet that lets you save Web pages. Properly installing the bookmarklet may prove tricky, if you don’t follow the provided instructions to the letter. It doesn’t simply involve downloading a small piece of code; you also have to bookmark, copy, delete, and paste. Miss one step and the bookmarklet will fail to work. That’s in stark contrast to the Editors’ Choice award-winning Instapaper’s ($4.99, 4 stars) simplicity; you surf within the app, so there’s no bookmarklet needed. It should be noted that the bookmarklet is catered more toward advanced users; the far more simpler route is to email the link to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can add Web pages, emails, images, videos, and audio clips to your Pocket, as long as the application you’re using to consume this content is supported by Pocket. Pocket supports hundreds of iPad apps including the likes of Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Zite, and more. The ability to tag content with keywords is a nice touch as it helps during items searches. Pocket one-ups Instapaper here, as that app asks users to pay a fee to conduct text searches.
Pocket offers a fair amount of granularity in content clipping, as well. I think the two most important options you can tweak in Settings are switching user agents (which optimizes content for mobile or desktop viewing) and restricting downloads to Wi-Fi. Unfortunately, Pocket suffers from the occasional slow site sync.
As you add content, the app builds a list of previews of each Web page you fetch. I added five items: a YouTube video, several articles, and a link I emailed. The list format organization is refreshingly simple, especially compared to Evernote. You simply tap an item to open it up in full. There’s a search box up top which lets you search saved items by title or URL. You can also organize content by video, image, or article.
Pocket lets you optimize content to your taste: a slider lets you change font sizes, fonts, brightness, etc. You can launch several options (sharing, adding tags, deleting, favoriting, and more) by swiping across the face of the thumbnail image.
Pocket handles video superbly; it lets you watch video clips, without leaving the app, in a cool miniplayer. Instapaper, unfortunately, bounces you to the dedicated YouTube app.
Pocket Versus Instapaper
By Jeffrey L. Wilson, PCMag