Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of posts about pockets. Pockets in women’s clothes vs. men’s clothes, pockets in dresses – the consensus seems to be that they’re extremely useful features. There’s even an app called Pocket -formerly called “Read It Later,” that helps web users do exactly that – save interesting links for later consumption, whether on-line or off-.
A few weeks ago, I started using Pocket to store links and read them later. It solved two problems at once – the fact that in any given internet session I’ll see dozens of links that sound interesting but which I haven’t got time to read, and the problem of what to read in the subway.
Pocket is great because it stores the links you like so you can read them later – when you’re offline. Because let’s face it – who wants to sit at their computer reading articles when you could be chatting, clearing your inbox, or even blogging?
While the app is fantastic, however, the web interface – which I’ve just started using – leaves a bit to be desired. The biggest beef I have with it is the method of adding tags to what you’re reading. (Tags, for those who aren’t in the know, are short phrases or words that describe the thing you’re reading, and they’re great because they make searching and grouping your articles for later retrieval easy.)
On the app, adding tags to your work is simple. You hit the “edit tags” option on the settings menu while you’re still looking at your article, and then pick from a list of tags you’ve already created – with the option to add new ones if need be. On the web, though, this gets more complicated.
Reading from your browser, you first must put your articles in “list” view (far less attractive than the grid view, which incorporates large image tiles). Next, instead of having a handy button lined up with the other buttons (share, delete, archive, etc.) you have to hover over the title of the article until the option for tags pops up, in text, below it.
Next, instead of picking from a list of already-chosen tags, you need to type new tags in. This is less than ideal for a few reasons – what if you mistype old tags, or don’t remember how you’ve phrased something? What if you don’t remember every tag you’ve used in the past, and your archive winds up incomplete because of it?
For example, one of my tags is an all-encompassing “neuro,” which covers neurobiology, neuroanatomy, research in both areas and some aspects of artifical intelligence and research, for a start. Since I have a casual interest in this area, and might want to retrieve any of the articles I bookmark and archive for later writing research, I decided to keep the category general. On the app, it’s easy to pick this tag and apply it. On the web, I have to hope I don’t forget and type in a more specific tag, because then when I pull up “neuro” I’ll go nuts trying to find an article I already know is there. I mentioned this to the company on Twitter and their reply was helpful:
@girl_onthego You can access your tag list on the web by clicking the tag icon next to the search field in the top toolbar.
— Pocket Support (@pocketsupport) May 6, 2014
…but still not quite what I’m looking for – it would be much easier if I could select tags when I was labeling them than to have to go look in a separate location. While services like Evernote let you do a full-text search, they’re not as tidy (at least, last I checked) for storing and retrieving articles offline, while Pocket doesn’t seem to offer a full-text article search (the web interface offers a search based on titles and tags, with no readily-apparent option to search full-text). In short, while Pocket is a great app and I’ve already gotten very attached to it, it’s still got room to improve. Here’s hoping the team takes the opportunity to make their already-addictive experience even more useful in the future. Happily, their social media team seems happy to pass along ideas like this:
Do you have any apps you use to track and read interesting links? What are their search interfaces like? Are you a Pocket user ready to tell me I’ve missed a solution on the above issues? I’d love to hear what others are using for the same purpose, or how they cope with Pocket’s shortcomings.