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Category: Apps

Favourite Apps: Pocket

Something I’ve been working on lately is trying to stop procrastinating so much – not just at home, but at work too. In and out of work, there’s always so many interesting things going on that it’s easy to become distracted reading articles, news, opinion pieces, infographics… I could go on. It’s always good to expand your knowledge, but sometimes it can stop you being productive. I’m always on the look out for hints, tips and tools to help me, and one of my current favourite tools is the bookmarking service, Pocket.Pocket logo

 

Pocket was founded in 2007 (under the name Read It Later) in San Francisco with a view to helping people save articles, images, videos and so on to read later. There’s so many ways to use it – it’s available as an app or extension on iOS, Android, Desktop, Windows Phone, Blackberry among other devices and there are over 500 apps that have already integrated it.

The way I use it most is as an extension in Firefox on my desktop at work, which you can install from the website at http://getpocket.com. You get this icon in the far right of your address bar:

Pocket button

When you’ve found something you like the look of, you just click the little arrow button and Pocket saves the page you are on so you can access it later from wherever you are.

When you do get round to wanting to read something, there’s also this button on the far right…

Pocket button

…which you can press to quickly see your list of articles, or you can change the settings so it automatically opens the next unread article.

I also use both the iPhone and Android apps quite a bit – the iPhone for when I’m out and about and the Android on my Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 when I’m at home. A great added bonus is that you can even set it up to read everything offline! This is just so helpful if you’re heading somewhere without reliable internet access, or don’t want to use any data.

Pocket has also recently added ‘Highlights’ to the things you save – letting you know if it’s a Long Read, Quick Read, Trending or Best Of. The first two are self-explanatory; Trending is when it’s one of the most popular items being saved and shared throughout Pocket; and Best Of are the most “impactful” items in your list. Highlights are really useful to drill down what you should prioritise to read and when – if you’ve a long commute, a Long Read is perfect; but if you’ve just a couple of minutes before a meeting, a Quick Read is obviously what you want! It’ll come in particularly useful once you start saving a lot to your Pocket – though you can also use tags or Favourites if you’d prefer to create your own.

I mentioned sharing – you can share or open an item from Pocket to multiple other apps or platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, Buffer, Evernote, Mail, Safari, Evernote, LinkedIn, WordPress … the list goes on. If you want to be ÜBER productive you could even use If This Then That (IFTTT) and set up triggers to automatically do the sharing or saving for you.

Here are some things I’ve saved this year:

 

Have you used Pocket before? What have you been saving recently?

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Favourite Apps: blinkbox music

I know, I know, I’ve been MIA for a while – what with prep for my trip to Rome (and actually being there for 5 days), I’ve been a bit of a slacker! So, to keep you going while I’m working on a post about my trip I thought I’d introduce you to a new app that’s been in my life for a couple of months now – blinkbox music. You may or may not recognise blinkbox as the online video streaming service owned by Tesco; last year they launched blinkbox music, a beta version of a music streaming service with over 14 million songs, and more being added every day. Before I found blinkbox music I was downloading songs either weekly or monthly, and then updating my playlist on my iPhone. Generally I’d download the top 40, or albums by bands I already knew I liked. I was in a music rut, listening to the same old stuff, and taking ages to do it too.
 Blinkbox logo

Discover new music

Blinkbox follows the Last.FM method of creating ‘radio stations’ based on your search criteria – so if you search for a band or a song, it will create a radio station of bands or songs that sound similar or are related. I love this for discovering new music and bands I wouldn’t normally listen to, but that fit with the type of music I like. The blinkbox team also create Featured stations which are perfect for finding new talent.

Quickly access your favourite sounds

You can quickly access your preferred music by ‘favouriting’ stations. There’s also the option to Like or Dislike songs, which means you can play a personalised station based on all the types of music you like (and avoiding those you don’t!). Your likes and favourites sync across devices – it’s available on iOS, Android, Windows and Mac.

Download your stations & listen offline

One of the most unique features of blinkbox music is that you can download the stations and listen to them offline. The stations are updated when connected to WiFi (though you can change this setting to 3G as well), so for example you could download the Top 40 Featured station and never have to worry about downloading new songs. It’s a serious timesaver, though downloads only work on one device (you’d have to download the same station on each device)

blinkbox app screenshot

But…I have Spotify. Why would I bother?

The short answer is: it’s free! There are ads, but they’re not that distracting and when I listen they seem to be only every 20-30 mins for about 1-2 mins. There are some drawbacks, though: it’s not an on-demand service which means you can’t listen to specific songs, so if that’s your bag, then it won’t be for you. Similarly this means you can’t rewind or skip backward. It can be frustrating and is probably the only significant thing I’d change.

 

For me, this app is for music lovers; people who are open to new sounds and are flexible with what they will listen to. If I’ve persuaded you to give it a go, you can download the app from the App Store and Google Play, and also access online at www.blinkboxmusic.com. If you’ve already tried it, I’d love to hear your thoughts below!

 

 

*Note this is not a sponsored post, just my personal opinion!

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