My Pocket now talks (on Android anyway)

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Last April when "Read It Later" became "Pocket" I wasn't too happy with the changes. In the months since I've come to love the new product and have been meaning to say as much; with the latest update I've decided the time is right.

Pocket is one of a handful of app/service combinations intended to make it easier for you to save content for later consumption. InstaPaper is probably its most well-known competitor. The basic idea is that you see an article in your newsreader or a web browser and you tag it for saving to your Pocket account. When you've got some free time you open your Pocket account and read (or watch, in the case of a video) the stuff you saved. As a bonus Pocket strips away the chrome, ads and glitter from a webpage and gives you something much more readable.

I like Pocket because it works on all the devices I use: my iPad, my Android phone, Android tablets and of course my PC (other operating systems, such as Windows Phone, have user-created Pocket apps available). The company has done a good job of getting itself supported in "Share" menus in mobile apps and a bookmarklet handles things in a web browser. Pocket also lets you download content to your device in case you're going off the grid (or want to save bandwidth by downloading while on WiFi).

The old Read It Later was a no-frills service that worked well. I was grumpy when the company morphed into Pocket because I was afraid adding all that pretty would make it less efficient. It turns out that my fears were unfounded. Pocket looks great and still works great. It's a service I use every day and I highly recommend it.

So what about the new update that prompted me to finally post about Pocket again? The Android version (only) just got a new text-to-speech option. If you're driving or making dinner or whatever, you can still catch up on your Pocket-saved content by having the app read your posts to you. It uses Android's built-in capabilities (which is why there's no iOS version) and it works pretty well. Granted it stumbles on some product names; I was 'reading' a post on the Wii U and it had no clue how to pronounce that. But generally it does a nice job. You can even set the speed if you like (I've found you can speed things up quite a bit and still have it perfectly understandable). It's just one more small update to a product that is constantly being improved upon.

Pocket is free. You can get it from the iTunes Store, Google Play or consult their list of apps for other mobile operating systems.

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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