Save It Now, Read It Later: My Experience With Pocket Over Three Years

This post might seem a little boastful, so please read at your risk. In the true spirit of writing about Pocket, if you don’t have time to read now, save to Pocket.

The first time I’d heard about Pocket was in April 2012, when they had a massive change in their product name and design. What was known as Read It Later, with paid mobile apps became a product called Pocket, with free apps. I’d read reviews online praising the great design which if I remember correctly, was said to be beautiful and functional.

Still, it was only in November of 2012 that I finally signed up. I’d seen the app as an Editor’s Choice on the Google Play Store, when I got my first Android phone. I signed up, and then found that I would have to change my system to be able to use this app. The way things used to work in my life was simple: if I saw an interesting article, I would read it, then and there. No matter what the time or place, I would drop everything and read it then. I had no system in place, much less the hack of bookmarking or emailing myself the links.
This cost me a lot, in terms of time I spent on my mobile and also caused me to not pay attention to the friends and relatives around me. But with Pocket, I found myself saving articles easily through the Share menus and then reading them at night before bed, or in mornings when I woke up early. A system began to emerge and it was on a cold December morning that I first asked myself, “Where has this app been all this time? What would I be doing without this app?”

Once an app makes you ask that question, it just becomes a part of your everyday life. I saved tons of links and read everything I could, on Pocket.Since I was a mobile-only user, I found saving items to Pocket more efficient than having to wait for pages and their scripts to load. As time went by, I kept saving more and more.

I introduced a lot of friends to Pocket and I’m proud to say that a couple of them still use it. Everywhere I went, I had only one app recommendation for people: Pocket. I almost seemed crazy at times, being so excited whenever I was talking about Pocket. Then, in December 2013, a little over a year since I started using Pocket, I got an email.

I was one of the top 5% of users of Pocket, reading almost 750,000 words throughout the year. That was enough to rock my socks off! It was then that it dawned on me just how much time I spend on Pocket and how much I save to it. Slowly, as time went on, Pocket started adding a lot more features.

Send to Friend was one of the features I used (and misused) whenever I could. It was one of the easiest ways to share content when I saw something interesting in my friend’s Pocket list and wanted it too. Believe it or not, I’ve even had chat threads with a friend, where we would chat by sending each other articles. Well, what’s life without a little whimsy, eh?

Pocket Highlights rolled out soon after, with a promise to sort out the best articles and videos worth my time and to show which items were trending with other Pocket users. This was one of those little ideas that make apps so much more better. Hihglights wasn’t groundbreaking or revolutionary. It was a simple feature, but it helped out people deal with their long lists in Pocket.

As the time I spent reading in Pocket grew, I started looking for more ways to feed the Pocket machine. At one point, I had feedly, Flipboard, Pulse and Twitter installed on my phone, just looking for something new to save and read. Yes, I was addicted to Pocket and I felt happy about it. I began answering questions about Pocket on Quora in 2014. Now, I’m one of the most-viewed writers on the topic on Quora. Imagine a montage of me saving, reading and archiving on Pocket on a loop. That was 2014.

Again, as the end of the year came close, I got the annual email. I had again made it to the top 5% of Pocket users. I’d read a little over a million words over the course of a year, so there definitely was an increase in just how much content I was consuming within Pocket. What’s more, most of my favorite articles from the year, that I’d cherished reading, were favorites among other users too. This year-end email from Pocket is one of the things I really wait for when December arrives.

In 2015, I kept the content flow steady with a lot of careful manual curation of the posts I wanted to read, and using IFTTT to automate saving certain items like the incredible longform journalism from BuzzFeed. This year, Pocket has been on a roll, with its Beta Channel for beta testers to test out new features before they are rolled out to everyone. Needless to say, I joined the beta as soon as I heard about it. Users now have their own public profile on Pocket, with the ability to recommend articles or videos onto this public profile.

Also, Pocket now recommends articles for you, based on what you’ve already saved. The next step in this process, as you can guess, is the ability to follow other users and friends and get recommendations from them, which followed soon after. The items I recommend are shown to the people who follow me. This marks a paradigm shift from the way Pocket acts as a to-read list, to a service where I can get highly personalized content recommended to me, from people I know. Thankfully, the recommended feed doesn’t move like Twitter’s timeline and not all recommendations from a person are shown, to keep the feed clean. Everything is controlled by an algorithm, making sure that users are only recommended relevant articles and videos.

After having been in the “Top 5%” club for two consecutive years, I finally made it to the 1% club in 2015! Here are my stats for 2015. I read approximately 2.9 million words, which is akin to reading ‘The Great Gatsby’ 62 times.

Pocket2016

On January 16, 2015, I’d set up a spreadsheet which counted every little article I read in Pocket and listed them. As the one year journey ended on January 16 this year, I decided I would make the spreadsheet public. Here’s my spreadsheet which lists EVERY single article I read in Pocket in 2015. I’m still analyzing the list and adding extra info, like word counts. It is a tough job to do manually, so if you know an easy way to get the word-counts for a large data-set, please let me know on Twitter.

Three years down the line, Pocket is still one of those apps I open daily on my phone and one of the first apps and extensions I install on new devices and browser. Great design principles and an emphasis on both form and function makes this one of the must-use services online. As Pocket has grown over the last three years, so too have I, reading articles I never thought I would have the time to; being exposed to thoughts and ideas new and radical. Who knows what the future holds for us, but I’m sure of one thing. Come the future, I’ll still be reading content in my downtime on Pocket.

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