One of the better Yuletide traditions is the venerable holiday Advent Calendar, in which each day of December leading up to Christmas is marked off on a special calendar by opening its corresponding door to find a small gift, toy or chocolate squirreled away inside.
This year, we here at Cult of Mac decided we wanted to give our readers their very own Apple-themed advent calendar, filled with the year’s best apps, gadgets, stories and other curios. So each day in December, we’re going to lovingly peel back the door on the Cult of Mac 2012 Advent Calendar to reveal another delicious morsel, something really special that came out this year that we think every one of you should enjoy.
What’s hiding behind the door for Day 5? It’s a handy service called Pocket, formerly known as Read It Later.
Neither Pocket nor Instapaper came out in 2012, but it wasn’t until the beginning of this year that I really started using read later services to my full advantage. Because of my fine job here at Cult of Mac, I read a crap ton of articles every day—like, more than any normal person should. It’s kinda ridiculous, actually.
Since I’m constantly saving links that I come across on Twitter, Google Reader, and such, I need a bookmarking service that allows me to file them away from just about any app I’m in on any device. Believe it or not, I used to manually bookmark what I wanted to save for later in Safari, but that can get easily overwhelming even with Apple’s new Reading List feature.
I started using Instapaper first, and I had few complaints. The service and accompanying iOS app were both minimal and got the job done. I started realizing that about 90% of what I was saving was only read once, so the idea of traditional bookmarking quickly become archaic. In fact, I now only bookmark something in Safari if I know it’s a link I will revisit multiple times for quite awhile. My idea of a bookmark has changed.
When Read It Later rebranded to Pocket this year, I decided to give it a go. I was originally thrown off by the bright colors, but then it slowly started to grow on me. I haven’t used Instapaper in months.
Pocket’s iOS app is better at quickly downloading incoming links that you just saved, while Instapaper’s app always seemed to take forever to cache. This is a make or break feature for me because of the sheer volume of links I save during a day. I like the ability to tag links (work, fun reading, etc.) and category viewing helps when I just want to look at videos or images I’ve saved. The Pocket Mac app is rock solid, and it has become a permanent member of my dock collection. The same goes for the iPhone and iPad apps. I’ve found that Pocket has just enough character to not feel boring, but the interface also manages to stay out of the way and help you focus on reading.
The only thing I miss about Instapaper is the social element that lets you see what your friends are saving. If Pocket could also add some sort of editor’s picks section to the app, then it would be perfect.
Pocket is totally free on the web, Mac and iOS. Give it a try if you haven’t already.