Pocket update for mobile introduces improved listening experience

Martin Brinkmann
Oct 15, 2018

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.

Pocket, which is owned by Mozilla, maker of Firefox, is available as a standalone service on the Internet and as apps for mobile devices. Mozilla did integrate Pocket into Firefox recently as well.

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.

pocket new listening

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.

Closing words

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.

Now You: do you use Pocket or another "read it later" service?

Pocket update for mobile introduces improved listening experience
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Pocket update for mobile introduces improved listening experience
The Pocket team released a new version of the popular application for mobile devices recently that introduces an improved listening experience.
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  1. pocketish said on October 18, 2018 at 12:07 am

    I use Pocket but only to bookmark things on Android for later reading in Firefox on the PC.

    I’d use it the other way around to if only the Android app had a simple list view that didn’t show images or buffer download articles. But it doesn’t and probably never will. Because of that I never open the app on the phone.

  2. A. said on October 16, 2018 at 7:12 pm

    I use Pocket and even pay for premium, as I like it to work as a personal and quick archive (premium version saves the contents of the icon).

    Support (by e-mail) works decently in some aspects. They have once even adapted their parsing to a specific site’s clumsy way of coding articles’ titles into the text instead of the HTML head, for instance.

  3. John Fenderson said on October 15, 2018 at 5:05 pm

    “do you use Pocket or another “read it later” service?”

    I don’t. I don’t see value in it for me, personally — I use bookmarks to remember what I want to read later.

  4. Anonymous said on October 15, 2018 at 2:30 pm

    Pocket is spyware and adware, ditch it. A greedy attack on user base typical of the new Mozilla.

  5. MANDREW said on October 15, 2018 at 1:53 pm

    I use Pocket daily and love it. I use IFTTT to import RSS feeds into Pocket. I’ve tried a handful of other RSS readers in the past but am happy with Pocket

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