Saving to Facebook is cool but Pocket still wins on one key area


Saved to Facebook vs Pocket

We read a lot of articles online and unlike traditional print, you have the ability to store the latter and read them later. For articles online, we used the bookmarking function on browsers for a very long time to “save” an article for later reading.

Now for some history. Pocket was initially called Read It later which was initially a Firefox extension. It had a competitor, Instapaper, which started the whole idea of saving links that could be accessed in a mobile phone, the iPhone in this case. Read It Later was renamed to Pocket and became a free app. This was huge since Pocket lets you save articles you read on Twitter or Flipboard or at the time Google Currents (later renamed to Newsstand) to Pocket. Pocket also did something that we really like: It strips clutter from articles and makes easy to read these articles on save across your devices since they are saved in the cloud.

Pocket is great and all but there was a change recently and it was made by the social networking giant: Facebook. During their 2016 F8 conference, they announced a “Save to Facebook” button which was huge. Saving articles on Facebook was actually announced way earlier, back in 2014 where you could save articles you found interesting on Facebook. Now, the “Save to Facebook” button has been integrated into reading apps like Flipboard where you can view this content later.

save to Facebook
Save to Facebook button

When you’re in an app like Flipboard, when you want to save an article, you tap on the “share button” and within the share menu, you will see the “Share to Facebook” button. It saves automatically to your Facebook account where you can view the content later on desktop or mobile. You can access it on mobile and on your desktop on your “favourites.”

on Mobile
Saved on Facebook desktop
on desktop

When you save articles from the web to Facebook, they are arranged quite well  according to the various categories listed: Links, Videos, Products, Photos, Places, Music, Books, Films, TV Programmes, Events and Archive. This is neat since it arranges neatly every item you would want to see later in categories instead of the Pocket way of storing everything in one big mess.

There are advantages to saving on Facebook rather than saving on Pocket:

  1. The automatic categorization of stories you see on the web is my best feature so far. Big thumbs up in the pursuit to minimize cluttering. You have this on Pocket but Facebook’s is more comprehensive.
  2. Pocket usually requires you to sync your saved articles every time you store them in the cloud. That can take some time if they are many. On Facebook however, everything is sort of instant: You save an article to Facebook and boom! You find it on mobile or desktop waiting for you.
  3. There is no need to register. Registering for a service is tiresome to be honest and fortunately for Pocket, it is not as intensive as other services. But, most probably an Internet user has a Facebook account and there would be no need to use Pocket: Just save your article and load it later while on Facebook.
  4. If you explicitly source all of your content on Facebook, there is absolutely no need to use another app to save content for later reading. This is good for Facebook.

However, Saving on Facebook has one disadvantage when you compare it with Pocket: It saves links without stripping the clutter. This would be important for people with limited data balances who are interested in the content rather than the ads or photos.

As you know, Facebook wants to be the primary source of news for its huge 1.65 billion active user base. That is why they have been pushing the likes of Live Video, Instant Articles and a News Feed that feeds you with the content that is important to you. The fact that they rolled this out a month ago for people to embed to their sites is to make people make Facebook their primary source of news.

It is not all bad news for Pocket, as there is a loyal fan base out there who by 2014 had saved a billion “saves” on the platform. The key problem is the untapped unplugged population out there, where if they manage to join the Facebook platform, they would be no need to save to Pocket