With the plethora of blogs, news outlets, and columns available and updated every day, it is challenging to manage to keep up with reading everything one wants to. I, and I know I’m not alone, tend to read a lot of the online content I follow from my iPhone – while I’m waiting for a bus, meeting, plane, or friend. These times when one is just standing around, having a mobile device connected to the wide internet in one’s palm is immeasurably handy (no pun intended). However, I used to frequently run into one of two dilemmas – I didn’t have time to read something at that given moment, and knew I’d forget about it if I didn’t, or I’d be somewhere with no internet signal (subway, basement, boondocks, etc). I quickly found there are a few solutions to such dilemmas, including Safari’s Reading List function, Instapaper, and Pocket. As the title possibly hints, I’ve settled on using Pocket, but that is not discount the other options available.
Safari’s Reading List
The built-in Reading List function in the Mac and iOS versions of Safari is by-far the simplest and most streamlined solution – one simply sends a page to the Reading List queue from any of those versions of Safari, and it is more-or-less instantly synced to the other devices under your Apple ID, and then save as an offline version for reading. That’s the good part. The not-so-good part is that I’ve found it to be less-than reliable. It sometimes has trouble saving things for offline view, and too many times I’ve found the page unavailable without an internet connection, or I’ve found only part of the page viewable (eg: a page from Wikipedia, which it saves the mobile view on an iPhone, however that only lets you view the first section of the Wiki article).
Instapaper is another great option, and I used it successfully for a while. I have no major issues with it, however I eventually opted to move from using it partly for aesthetic reasons but also because I didn’t love it’s integration across platforms, which was key for me. However, I wouldn’t try to sway anyone from using Instapaper, as the differences between it and Pocket aren’t earth-shattering.
Pocket (free, with Premium subscription option), which I currently use, is relatively simple. From the desktop versions of browsers, you can easily use the plugin to save a page to Pocket, finding it quickly synced across your devices. The interface is reminiscent of a mail client – with your list of saved items on the left, and then displaying as previews in the right-hand window. By default, it’ll try to display articles in a reader-like view, simplifying the formating and streamlining everything (getting rid of adds, nuisance features etc, and just showing you the article content). Sometimes it has trouble, which is why you can quickly tell it to switch to showing the website version. However, the caveat here is that for the latter, you have to be connected to the internet, whereas the former is offline. You can easily tag articles to your heart’s content, although in my view, you’d have to be a dedicated librarian to deal with that. Once you’re done with an article you can quickly throw it into your archive, where you can then search-for and retrieve it when you later decide you still want to read it again. Pocket also does an admirable job of facilitating sharing. In a quick click, you can share your article via social media or email, maintaining the streamlined reader view. If you friend is also fortunate enough to be a Pocket user, you can share it to their Pocket, where when they accept it (you wouldn’t want just anyone adding things willy-nilly to your pockets), it appears in their article list.
If you, like me, love to read online content, but don’t always have enough time or memory to do so, solutions such as Pocket are an excellent way to go, as well as being a free solution.