Reasons you should be using the Pocket app to read your articles

Pocket is no stranger to some of us. I am tempted to say “most of us” but that might be a terrible assumption.

Off the bat, yours truly loves his long reads. I’m a curious mind and with just that understanding of me, Pocket is, out of the box, the kind of app or service I’d have in my fold any day any time. I’m saying app/service because, until recently, I just used the service – in my email inbox and on my web browser. But, for everyone else (including myself starting recently, there’s a very well done mobile app in addition to the browser extensions that I’ve survived on for long – save for if you’re using the browser from Pocket’s makers, Mozilla Firefox, which has the service built in), there’s a nice mobile app which you can find on the Play Store.

So, what exactly is Pocket? It’s many things to many people. It can be a brilliant content discovery platform. Or a very handy content bookmarking service… Through the three reasons laid out below, you will come to your own conclusion about what exactly it is because for yours truly, it is all of those things listed below.

1. Content

Pocket as a service may be several things to many people but to me, it is primarily a content discovery platform. I started using Pocket – through the mobile application and desktop browser extensions – many years ago for a different purpose. However, as the years have gone by and discovering quality content in the information overload that we all suffer from these days has become a chore, I have embraced it for discovering great content that I then not only read but also share – you should have come across a lot of it if you interact with me on social media platforms.

Content discovery comes in many forms. There are email digests sent daily and weekly, depending on one’s preferences. One can also just discover content on Pocket’s website (make sure you’re signed) in or the app. Most recently, there’s also something that the people behind Pocket are calling “Collections”. Essentially, these are interesting pieces of content put under one roof to make it easy to find them instead of getting an article here and another there.

Most importantly, these pieces of content may make the most sense to a lot more people because not only are they grouped by interest – say you are into personal financial articles, for example – they are also localized.

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“Pocket Collections are designed to be fascinating reading lists hand-picked by experts and thought leaders that go deeper than what you can find in algorithmic recommendations or basic search results,” says Mozilla.

A good example of the localization efforts in Collections is the recent partnership between Mozilla, the Pocket service and app’s developers, and the Aga Khan University to introduce what they are calling the East African Collections. It’s rich in content from across the region and beyond, that has been deemed relevant to readers from the region with topics spanning from travel, technology self-improvement and many others. And, it’s not just articles, we’ve found some podcasts in there as well!

2. Read-it-later service

This is perhaps Pocket’s most well-known feature and use case. It is why I started using Pocket way back in college. I’d be on the world wide web moving from site to site, as usual, and I’d bump into something interesting (mostly an article) that I had no time to read at that particular time as I was rushing from one class to another or beating a class assignment deadline. So, what would I do? Bookmark it for reading later. It saved me a lot.

For those not in such a scenario as a student or someone in the office, it should come in handy for things that you’d want to refer to later, maybe share with someone else, later and, as we will see in the next point, maybe even better reading than wherever the content is currently hosted!

Using Pocket to save articles for reading later is easy both on mobile (using the app) and on a desktop-class web browser (using extensions). On Android devices, just make sure you have the application installed and it will always show up in the universal Share menu. When reading something in a browser of yourself, you simply share to it and, voila!

3. Distraction-free reading – and data savings!

The world wide web is full of distractions. Sometimes, at the end of a long day, you just want to enjoy reading that new Wired article that just popped up on your Twitter feed as you were leaving the house for work, and don’t want to be reminded to spend some $5 on a subscription or for yet another VPN app. And, I’m being generous, things are usually worse.

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On desktop browsers, a good number of us have things figured out – we have ad blocking extensions installed and whatnot. On mobile browsers, things are not exactly rosy given the obvious limitations of browser apps on mobile. Bar Samsung’s most popular browsers don’t support extensions – and those are barely there, anyway. So, now, what to do? Well, there’s always the option of blocking ads by using a private DNS or blocking ads at the network level, for those that know their way around these kinds of things. But, in a random sample of about 10 readers of articles on the web, that’s unlikely to be anyone. Most people will just roam the Play Store in search of an ad blocker and the efficiency of those if a device hasn’t been tampered with (remember Android rooting?) for the apps to gain system-level access (something that is not only totally unnecessary in 2022 but also a big security risk) is still something I can’t assure anyone of.

So, now, where do you go? Well, just Pocket it! Use Pocket to read your articles distraction-free. No ads, no unnecessary clutter, no nothing… Bonus, you get familiar formatting for all your content instead of being at the mercy of whoever is responsible for optimizing the experience on whatever site you’re getting your articles from.

Another big bonus of content being stripped of unnecessary elements in a bid to enhance the reading experience is a reduced data consumption. Yes, all those elements on a website, including this one, that are loaded before you can read an article are fetched from somewhere – a remote server. That consumes your precious data bundles. The lesser the fetching that has to be done, the lesser the amount of data that is consumed.

Also, Pocket downloads content to your mobile app for reading later, where possible, via Wi-Fi, to further minimize on data consumption.

Pocket: Save. Read. Grow.
Pocket: Save. Read. Grow.

Have something that you believe I need to have a look at? Hit me up: echenze [at] androidkenya.com

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