Pocket 5.0's dynamic story prioritization feature is a real Highlight

Popular read-it-later service Pocket launched version 5.0 this week, introducing a new feature aimed at making it easier than ever to find and read saved articles in your queue. Dubbed Highlights, this feature adds dynamic category tags based on the story type, such as Long or Quick Reads, Best Of, Trending, Videos, or interests you’ve already marked in Pocket’s settings.

“Pocket is a revolutionary place to view, share, and now rediscover the things that matter to you,” said Pocket's CEO Nate Weiner during a Wednesday launch event in San Francisco. Pocket 5.0 is available now for iOS devices, with the Android version to arrive November 20.

Highlights are found above your list in the left-hand navigation bar.

When your Pocket list gets too deep, a lot of content gets buried—so much so that stories never again make it to your devices’ screen. Weiner says that only about 5 percent of items below the No. 30 spot in a typical Pocket list gets opened. Version 5.0’s Highlights feature aims to fix that by prioritizing stories for you and helping you find just the right article to read.

My stories were automatically sorted by Best Of, Long Reads, and Quick Reads.

I’ve been using Highlights since this week’s launch, and I find it to be a really useful addition to an already smooth reading platform. While I’m on the bus, I tackle stories from my Quick Reads or Trending lists on my iPhone, saving stories from my Long Reads and Best Ofs for reading on my Mac or iPad in the evening when I’m less pressed for time. The Highlights categories appear at the top of your list in the left-hand column, and the most recommended story from each Highlight has a large, splashy image to show it off. When you’ve finished reading a piece, you can still mark it as complete or as a favorite, which moves that article off of your main list and into a Favorites or Archives folder.

Pocket users will notice another new feature working behind-the-scenes to keep lists organized. Pocket Preferences automatically looks at topics, sites, and authors you follow, and then groups similar stories together based on what you’ve saved. For example, if you’re planning a Tuscan vacation and saving a lot of articles about Italy, Pocket will create an “Italy” category for you. Once you’ve stopped adding fresh content to it—like after you return from that trip—the category disappears.

Each Highlight page pulls in what it thinks are the best stories from your list.

Another Preferences feature provides smoother integration with third-party apps. When browsing through other content aggregators like Feedly, Flipboard, Zite, or even Twitter, you can add stories to Pocket straight from these apps—a feature found in previous versions of Pocket. However, when linking a third-party app to Pocket, you previously had to manually add your interests and topics one by one to get the content you want. Third-party apps can now pull preferences straight from your Pocket list, saving you an extra step of set-up.

After spending some time using the new Pocket, I’m powering through articles at a much quicker pace. I never really used tags in Pocket before, so I’d just scroll through my list and pick a story based on the headline. Using Highlights gives me insight about the article before I even start reading. Color-coded tags tell me what kind of story it is, so I can choose accordingly. The Highlights feature works best with a long list of saved articles.

Though Pocket 5.0 is available now for iOS devices, the Highlights feature is rolling out to users in groups this week. All users should have Highlights by the end of the week.

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