Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Read It Later is now Pocket, a gorgeous and free app for cleaner reading on Android

Read It Later is now Pocket, a gorgeous and free app for cleaner reading on Android:

After serving as a non-essential-content stripper for the past five years, Read It Later is no more. Don’t worry, it’s just the name being dumped; the 4.5 million users who turn to the service formerly known as Read It Later will still be able to bookmark mobile-friendly articles under the rebranded and completely redesigned ‘Pocket.’

Pocket represents more than just a name change – it’s also a change of focus. The company revealed last month that a huge portion of the items it marked were for people saving video links, so the name just didn’t fit. Pocket now makes it clearer that you can save articles, photos, and videos to view or read later, and do so in a format that is minimal in its design. Users can place a bookmarklet to their desktop computer and instantly add articles or videos to their list, or save content directly from their phone using the Android share function.

The minimalism extendeds to the Pocket Android app, which works well on both phones and tablets. The app follows the Holo ICS conventions but throws in some light silver and white elements that users will appreciate. Only the text and images posted in an article are saved in Pocket, so readers get only the important bits. Like Readability, he app doesn’t always pull in full-size images, but tapping on it will zoom in on a thumbnail (not full-size images). A navigation bar at the bottom can mark an item as read, star it, change text size or font, increase brightness, or switch between day and night modes. The top navigation bar can refresh an article or toggle between minimal and web views.

Viewing photos and videos are handled through an internal media player. Vimeo and YouTube were the only services that I tested and both played without issue. That’s just one of the many things Pocket does right, as the app does a exemplary job of letting users manage the content they bookmark. The app can add tags to articles, photos, or videos for filtering and organization purposes, and users can search or look only at specific media types.

Pocket is available now in Google Play. Android 2.2 or higher is required to use the free app.