Hello and welcome to another episode from Productivity Matters; a series about the apps and methods that help you get things done.
How do you normally consume your news? Traditional newspaper? Online newspaper? Do you get it from lots of sources?
I’m Julian, your host for this episode and I’m going to take a look at two services that will help you to aggregate your news.
Coming right up.
We’re all busy; and some would say busier than a generation ago. We travel a lot further for work and our attention is being drawn by a multitude of things happening in our lives..
Where we once used to consume a daily newspaper along with our breakfast; nowadays we no longer restrict our news reading to a single publication.
The internet has brought world news into our own homes, not forgetting all the other areas of interest; entertainment, technology, science, business and specialist publications too.
One way to keep on top of the subjects we want to read about is to use an aggregator. A service that will pull in stories from a variety of sources.
In the Good Ole Days, the biggest service was provided by Google, called Google Reader; but they pulled the plug on that back in 2013; apparently due to lack of use! At the time it caused upset amongst its fans.
Whilst this was happening, another service, called Feedly, was working quietly in the background.
When Google announced their intention to close Reader, the number of users to Feedly jumped to half a million in 48 hours!
Within a couple of months they had over 12 million users.
Feedly is a news aggregator application for various web browsers and mobile devices running iOS and Android, also available as a cloud-based service. It compiles news feeds from a variety of online sources for the user to customise and share with others.
Throughout the day, Feedly is “listening” to the topics and news-feeds I have selected and then pulls in the up-to-date stories ready for me to read.
You can select sources from a variety of choices, or, if you know the RSS feed, RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication, you can add that manually.
Over the intervening years, Feedly has grown and developed a number of features; such as the ability to read later, create boards to store stories from a particular subject, sharing the article with other people and teams and also with other apps.
As is usually the way, Feedly is free to download and use, but, of course, they do have a Pro version that offers more granular control and more sharing options, such as integrations with Buffer, Zapier, Hootsuite, Evernote etc
You can also filter out noise with mute filters, add notes and highlights, have unlimited feeds and get news articles faster amongst other functionality.
It’s my number one app for reading the headlines.
From these headlines, I save the article into Pocket.
Pocket was founded in 2007 to help people save interesting articles, videos and more from the web for later enjoyment. It’s like your Sky+ box. Save for later.
In fact, the original name was Read It Later and was designed to be used on a desktop browser.
Not only can you save items for reading later, but Pocket also curates and provides links directly to articles, some old and some new. I’ve found some quite interesting long-form articles here.
Over the years, development has continued to the latest version of the app and once saved to Pocket, your content is visible on any device — phone, tablet or computer. It can be viewed while standing in a queue, on the couch, during commutes or travel — even, especially, offline.
Pocket is great.
In the latest version, they’ve improved the access to listen to an AI voice reading the articles to you. I was dubious about this and it’s not perfect, but it’s not a bad way to consume the articles if you can’t read them.
You can add articles to Pocket in a variety of ways.
I’ve already mentioned that I add Feedly for my news. But you can add anything in here.
You can use the share extension or the browser extension. It’s also possible to email items directly from your inbox.
If you copy the URL from your browser, Pocket will ask you if you want to add it.
You can also use tags, so that you can effectively create ‘folders’ of related articles.
Pocket is also free to download and use, and there is also a premium version.
This includes the Permanent Library which automatically creates copies of the articles and webpages you’ve saved to your account. That way, even if an item changes or is taken offline, you will be able to open the version that you have saved in Pocket.
Full-Text Search provides fast and powerful search functionality. Pocket will search through the entire content of every item you’ve saved, making it extremely easy to find what you’re looking for.
With Pocket Premium, you’ll see a list of Suggested Tags whenever you tag an item. It's very well designed, as the tags that are suggested are inspired by the item’s topics as well as the tags you already use.
So, both Feedly and Pocket are free to download and use. And there is no need to pay if you don’t require the advanced functionality on offer.
But, if you do want to have the full experience, then both the Feedly Pro version and the Pocket Premium version are $45 each per year.
I did try and use Feedly on it's own, using their Read Later function; but in many cases, only the headline is saved, or just the first part of the article, so I ended up having to use a different app to read them in full. That app is Pocket.
I love Pocket. It’s variety of options to download articles automatically, link to your accounts on various publications, different reading modes to make it easier on your eyes really make this an excellent app to keep up-to-date with your interests.
Fun fact: at the end of last year, I received an email from Pocket, telling me that I was in the top 1% of readers for the year.
I might not mean a whole lot; but it’s fun to know. Also shows that my reading is being tracked!!
I hope you’ve found this episode interesting.
If you have any questions about Feedly or Pocket, or you have comments about other aggregator services that you use, then please get in touch via the Contact Me button at the top of the page.
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Thank you very much for listening and until next time, remember, Productivity Matters.
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