Over the weekend I read an article with a good premise that was just totally wrong about the conclusion, even though it was about a Mac application I know and love and use.
Use Pocket? If you read something online, Pocket is a wonderful way to ensure that whatever you capture online can be read on any device wherever you are and at any time. Pocket is free so what’s not to like?
Browse vs. Capture
Hayden Nanders, writing in Nylon, lamented the passing of Google Reader a few years ago because that’s the application he used to read everything online. Google killed Reader but Hayden could not find peace in any of the alternatives (some of which are better than the original; more on that in a moment).
Reader had a good run but Pocket is not a good replacement bit is a good add-on. Here’s why.
Pocket, previously known as Read It Later, is an application and service for managing a reading list of articles from the Internet… The application allows the user to save an article or web page to remote servers for later reading. The article is then sent to the user’s Pocket list (synced to all of their devices) for offline reading. Pocket removes clutter from articles and allows the user to adjust text settings for easier reading.
That description explains why Pocket is popular and why I use Pocket, too. What pocket does not do is what Google Reader did and what many other RSS news readers do better– find articles worthy of reading.
Here’s an example.
On iPhone and iPad I use Apple’s own News app and Flipboard app because both aggregate news articles from many sources, and while I can influence those sources I cannot easily control them. In iOS the Share button allows me to save an article in News or Flipboard (or websites and other applications) into Pocket. Good, right? And it couldn’t be much easier. Tap the Share button, select Pocket, and it gets saved into Pocket, then synchronized to Pocket on other devices.
What’s missing is the ability to grab news from sources that I want to gather articles. That’s where an RSS news reader comes in and why it can be as valuable, more valuable, and yet integrate with Pocket. What I use to aggregate my specific sources of information online is News Explorer; available on Mac, iPhone, iPad, Watch, and Apple TV.
Unlike Pocket, which only captures news articles from sources you’re already reading, News Explorer allows you to capture and create those sources. Nearly every website these days has an RSS subscription feed which News Explorer uses to download to your Mac (or, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV) to review at your leisure. How it works is drop dead simple.
Go to a website you like and use News Explorer to grab the RSS URL. From then on News Explorer downloads recent articles; headlines and summary. That efficiency means you can browse through hundreds of articles in minutes, from dozens of websites that you choose. They can be categorized and organized to your liking, too.
Cool, right? Check this:
News Explorer gives you the same Sharing options in macOS and iOS. Find an article you want to save to read later, click the Share button, select how to save it– Pocket shows up if you have Pocket on your Mac or iPhone or iPad– and the article is saved and available to be read later. News Explorer also has options to save to Safari’s Reading List, Instapaper, and other options.
You can also use News Explorer to sync your RSS subscription list between devices. Pocket is great. Instapaper is great. Even Reading List in Safari is great. But all require you to find the articles you want to save for later and nothing does that better than an RSS news reader, of which News Explorer is tops on my list.