I discovered the iOS app Pocket recently, and it quickly became my favorite app, both for iPhone and iPad.
Pocket is a simple program in the “read it later” category. Actually, it is a descendant from a program called just like that, and it was a pioneer in the field. Back then, that program was really not great, and was quickly supplanted by Instapaper, which had a much more elegant approach to the problem.
I was a regular user of Instapaper for several years and, while I liked, I could never say I enjoyed it. Starting to read a new article from its list always felt like a chore, like work.
Reading things from Pocket, meanwhile, feels like fun, for several reasons I will try to explain later. The important point is that the different mood makes a huge difference in the amount of stuff I get read from each app. (Actually, the better reading experience of Pocket encourages me to add even more stuff, so the impact is multiplied)
I personally think there is an abundance of great stuff to read out there in the internet, so any tool that facilitates my increase in content consumption is highly welcome.
Instagram is a very nice app, doing very similar things, so how can Pocket feel so different? It is a series of small details, that make subtle changes.
- Pocket feels faster, simpler, more direct.
- The reading list is clearly presented, the pages are rendered promptly and practically, sending stuff to the archive is straightforward.
- Pocket handles better “see it later” videos too.
- There are no confusing folders to spread the content.
- Pocket seems to store a lot of old articles with more “confidence”.
- Is is easy to switch between an optimized text-only view and the original web view.
- The colors and typography are cleaner.
And so on. I am probably missing more important differences, but my point is how supposedly similar software can provide such dissimilar experiences (or feelings, to be exact).
And this is probably just another reason why creating (and event talking about) great software is such a challenge.