Pocket update for mobile introduces improved listening experience
The Pocket team released a new version of the popular "read it later" application for mobile devices recently. The new version features an improved listening experience, a redesigned interface and a new reading experience.
The new version of Pocket for Android and iOS comes with a new interface that uses optimized typography for "improved legibility and comfort" and a redesigned interface.
The biggest feature, probably, of the new release is the new audio listening experience. A tap on the headphone icon in the Pocket interface opens the audio player.
Note that audio playback using computer generated voices is only available in the mobile versions and not when you use Pocket on the Web.
Pocket uses locally available and cloud-based voices to read stories to users. Locally available voices require no Internet connection for playback while network voices do. Pocket highlights network voices with a cloud icon and displays a prompt to the user on first selection of a network voice that informs the user about Internet and bandwidth requirements for network voices.
Network voices offer a better quality than locally available voices. You can switch between different languages in the options and select one of the available voices for use. All voices that I tried supported at least one cloud-based option and multiple local options.
The voice selector offers no preview of the selected voice; this makes it a bit uncomfortable to find out which voice you like best as you need to activate a new voice as you need to enter the voice settings menu each time you switch to a different voice. It would have been better if Pocket would switch to the voice automatically without leaving the menu to make that initial configuration easier for the user.
The selection process is not too bad on the other hand considering that it is usually a one-time process.
None of the voices sound like human narrators but they don't sound overly robotic anymore either. While there is still a gap between human read content and computer voice read content, it is clear that computer generated voices are getting better by the year.
I have to admit that I don't use Pocket and disabled it in Firefox because of that. I do like the typography that Pocket uses on mobile and the listening experience works quite well in the app version especially since it allows you to listen to stories while you do something else.
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