Among the top apps on Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android platform, Read It Later, has rebranded with a new name and a new price tag: nothing.
The app, now known as Pocket, still provides a web app for PC and Mac browsers that allow users to save articles, videos and web pages they’re viewing to be accessed later. The browser app syncs with a mobile app, sending the pages the user saved earlier to the on-the-go device and allowing articles to be read even offline, so long as the app has been synced with a Wi-Fi or cellular data connection. The idea is that while you might find a lot of great articles to read or videos to watch during a day at your computer, you might not have time to get to them all. Pocket lets you get to those articles and videos when you’ve got a spare minute and your iPhone handy.
The new Pocket has pretty much redesigned the entire user interface experience for Read It Later. Organization has been streamlined so it’s easier to see what you’ve saved and to search through content in your Pocket by category; the app organizes everything you send to it, so if you’re looking for a video, you won’t have to stumble through a bunch of articles to find it.
Once you get to the list of items you’ve got saved, you can quickly scroll through each one, and the app now includes an image that was found with the article or video in order to make it easier to quickly find that for which you’re looking. As before, actually viewing content is a streamlined experience as well – Pocket strips out ads, excessive formatting and other distractions and gives you just text and relevant images on a plain white background.
Developer Idea Shower also has done a lot of work to improve Read It Later’s performance. The app has been cleaned up quite a bit, with a lot of bugs eliminated, and has been upgraded so that downloads take place faster and syncing has been improved.
Pocket isn’t the only game in town. It has some pretty stiff competition in Instapaper, an app that does basically the same thing and has also received a lot of buzz over the last few years, but Pocket’s improvements have definitely raised its game. The app just handles better now, allowing for “favoriting” particularly good items to make them available later and offering bulk editing capabilities that can move, organize, or delete larger numbers of items all at once.
If you haven’t given Read It Later or Instapaper a try, I’m sorry to say that you’ve been missing out on some of the handiest functionality your iOS device has to offer. Now that Pocket is free and sporting a new redesign, it’s definitely a great time to check it out.