Pouch for Windows RT

Sunday, 17 February 2013

An inability to use the Share charm to send articles to my Pocket account has been disruptive to my work flow on the Surface RT. As a result, I've regressed to the bad habit of emailing myself links. Neither efficient nor recommended. Enter Pouch.

Pouch makes the most important piece of functionality (adding articles to your Pocket account, of course!) almost effortless. Let me explain. At the moment, when you tap on 'Pouch' via the Share charm, the action isn't completed. Instead you're shown the title and URL of the article you intended to share and a new "Share" button, that when tapped does finally share the article with Pocket. I'm unsure if it's actually possible for apps to complete a share immediately after it's selected from the Share charm. But, if it is, then I find this confirmation step both tedious and unnecessary. And, if it isn't, then it should be.

As for the app itself, your reading queue is presented attractively with impressively fast refresh times and a most welcome ability to save articles for offline reading. The presentation of articles themselves is more of a mixed bag. Although it does a respectable job rendering text-centric web pages, only the leading image for an article was being displayed and I couldn't see videos at all if an article had any. You can customise the text size, but cannot switch to a  single column layout. I appreciate the multi-column layout makes sense when in landscape, but it would be nice if there was an option to toggle between the two layout types, especially when the device is in portrait mode (which, to be fair, is never on my Surface RT, but still). This shortcoming was further emphasised in Snap mode, where tapping on an queued article didn't open it in the snapped Pouch, but instead opened it in IE. As a result, the app when snapped behaves more like a link depository rather than a reading environment. This kind of makes sense, but I'm not entirely convinced.

If your biggest requirement is to simply streamline the process by which you add articles from IE Metro to your Pocket account, then you'll be satisfied with Pouch. If, however, you're looking for a polished reading experience, you may be disappointed by the inconsistent quality in which articles are presented and the lack of customisation options. 

As I find the Pocket website currently does a more elegant job in article presentation, I'll continue to read off of it. But, I'll also be keeping Pouch to make it easier to flag articles for future reading. In other words, for the time being, I'll be using Pouch as more of a browser add-on than an app. An incredibly useful one at that. It should be noted that on the day I installed Pouch, there was already an update available. Hopefully, this is just the start and there's more to follow.