Instapaper v Pocket: The Battle of the Tags

I don’t know how I would keep track of everything I want to read on the web without Instapaper. Well, I do know: badly. With bookmarks I would never remember to go back to.

The ability to save a blog post or an article to read later is fantastic. The ability to then read it without all the sidebar cruft is super-fantastic. The ability to categorize articles in folders is…not quite good enough for my purposes.

Web articles aren’t paper articles. I shouldn’t be limited to putting them into a single folder. I should be able to tag an article with “keep” and “to blog” and “buy this book” and “research for the slug story” all at once. [1]

Enter Pocket. Pocket has been getting a lot of attention this year, since it just rebranded and relaunched (it was formerly Read It Later). Unlike Instapaper, it has tags.

Tags lured me to try out Pocket with the idea of switching if I liked it better. Or at least as much. Unfortunately…all I like better is the tags.

Pocket paid a lot of attention to design, but I don’t want my reading app to have pretty colors and show me favicons from websites or pictures from blog posts. I want it to show me black and white words (or black and sepia words, or white and black words). Pocket also has made it impossible to delete an article from article view–after you’re done reading, you can either archive the article and then delete it from the archive later, or go back to the main article list and delete it there.

My main problem–the one that will keep me from fully switching away from Instapaper–is the inability to save articles by email. I really like being able to set up filters for the Daily Science Fiction emails or various email newsletters and have them automagially appear in Instapaper.

On the one hand that’s one feature out of several dozen. On the other hand it’s vital.

So now I’m using both apps. We’ll see what happens first: tags in Instapaper or emailing articles in Pocket.

[1] Instapaper’s FAQ points out that it isn’t designed to be a permanent storage system for articles. [2] But aside from tagging it works pretty well, and in some cases tagging is just a short way of saying “help me remember which of these many articles I need to read right away and which I can ignore for a while.”

[2] If Evernote did a better job with readable versions of stored web pages and offline access, I might move the creation of an Instapaper to Evernote workflow higher up my list of things to figure out. [3]

[3] I was already using IFTTT to put some things in Evernote, where I then never looked at them. (Maybe what I really need is an alternative to Evernote.)

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One Response to Instapaper v Pocket: The Battle of the Tags

  1. well you can do all this now with Instapaper, comeback!

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