Finding content on the web and being able to save it for later is a great convenience. This is why services like Clipboard, Keeeb and other similar tools exist. Just like these, there are also “read later” services that focus primarily on saving long articles (or even short ones if we are on a hurry) for reading at a later time.
These usually provide a reading experience that is better that just reading these articles on the web, with customizable fonts and other settings. In the past, we’ve compared the iOS apps of two of the most important of these services, Pocket and Instapaper. This time, let’s compare Pocket with a somewhat of a newcomer to the scene, Readability.
Let’s get started.
Design and Navigation
Compared to other similar offerings, Readability is relatively new to the iPhone, having existed as a web service long before that.
This is clearly noticeable when you open the app for the first time, since it already provides you with a reading list populated with news fed to their web service so you can start enjoying the app right away.
Compared to Pocket, the design of Readability is definitely less minimal and heavier in textures, something that is even further emphasized with the “card” analogy used to navigate through the app. Something I found nice about Readability’s navigation though, was that every important element of it is made clearly noticeable by either having it colored red or by having big interface elements. All of these makes it easier to understand, especially for first time users.
Right from the start, Pocket offers users a nice tutorial and then displays your article list, which also show each an image thumbnail to their right, making it clear from the start that Pocket is for more than just reading.
Menus in Pocket are far more streamlined when compared to Readability and manage to display a lot more options and information using less space.
Overall, while not sporting a flat design by any means, Pocket still manages to look and feel “cleaner” and more minimal thanks to its smart menu layout and to its use of a smaller and more readable default font.
As is the case with all read-later apps, Readability also allows you to read articles either with the app’s own interface or with it’s included web browser. When using the browser, the saving buttons are big and noticeable, allowing you to save the article to Readability without any extra steps.
Reading itself is quite pleasant and not hard on the eyes at all mainly to the semi-opaque background, although I would have preferred to have a different font set as the default. Thankfully, you can manage the fonts right from within an article, as well as being able to share right from it.
Additionally, Readability also offers easy access to a “night mode” which allows you to completely change the app’s color scheme for better reading in low light conditions.
Reading with Pocket is an overall nice experience, but the app pushes too hard to convince users that it is for more than just reading. For example, it displays a browser button right above articles that are already saved, almost encouraging you to read on the website. The app not only manages reading content, but also images and videos.
Content organization is also a bit messy due to the use of tags. However, Readability uses the same approach (I find folders suit this purpose much better), so there is no clear advantage in this regard. Pocket also offers far more settings than Readability, making it more flexible and easier to tailor to your needs.
Also, like Readability, Pocket also offers a “night mode” for a better reading experience during low light conditions.
To be honest, I find Readability offers a better reading experience than Pocket. However, the little amount of options it offers can limit the app severely. Also, if you want to also be able to save videos and other types of content for later reading, Pocket makes it very easy to do so with very few compromises and a reading experience almost as good.
Thankfully both apps (and their services) are free, so there is no excuse for you not to try them both.