Leaving Pocket

screenshot "my year in Pocket 2018"

Today I ended my Pocket Premium subscription.

I have been using Read It Later (now Pocket) since 2011, quite a long time ago. In 2015 I started paying for it because I used the service a lot, I found it very useful, and I did not want it to disappear like so many others have before. The best and notable features were:

  • compact list view of bookmarks with tags
  • good Firefox integration
  • cross-device sync (e.g. offline reading on a tablet)
  • usable API (e.g. to sync with Trello)

Over time strange things happened. The product was renamed to Pocket. Then it was bought by Mozilla. A short time later the Firefox integration disappeared. BTW with integration I do not mean the stupid save-to-Pocket button in current Firefox versions, but the full and searchable list of saved pages (as shown in this old addon description). The In my Pocket addon by Pierre-Adrien Buisson is a good replacement, but it is sad when an open source developer has to step in to make a product usable again. Mozilla wanted to opensource Pocket. And then they did not. In their mobile app they experiment with Text-to-Speech which I never tried. They also added social media features like recommendations and followers; but this only exists in the mobile app and not on the web so it looks incomplete and abandoned.

Last year they had yet another UI redesign and now their main web interface, the “My List” view looks like this:

Pocket's "My List" view

Notice anything? It is not even a list anymore. The tile design is ok for the “Discover” and “Explore” sections where the SEO designers can show of with their images and capture texts, but I do not need any of that in my own bookmark sorting. I my sorting view I want to see many items at once (i.e. a list) with their tags and with easily clickable action buttons. The old design had that. The new design has big tiles (so only 1/3 to 1/2 of the items per screen area), it shows no tags, and all actions are behind that flimsy hover-over dots menu. This is no longer useful.

Now I only have to find an alternative…

I recently tried wallabag. It looks nice and the self-hosting option is certainly a bonus, so it is certainly in the selection. But the tag handling was not quite as good as it was previously on Pocket. Next I am going to try Pinboard.

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