Cool stuff: Buffer & Pocket

So, in the last few days I’ve finally established a settled group of apps for reading and sharing internet content, having moved away from Hoosuite to using Twitter‘s own interface along with two great apps called Pocket and Buffer, which have made my life a lot easier. Essentially, Pocket allows me to read or watch pretty much anything on the internet at a later point, and Buffer allows me to share those things at regular intervals.

This might not sound like a very big deal, but it’s actually very useful as it’s fairly pointless posting updates to Twitter or LinkedIn if no-one’s going to see them, or if they’re all going to sent at once. Pocket allows me to come back to things later, rather than letting them interrupt my workflow, by saving articles for offline use and syncing them across my laptop and phone. Buffer then allows me to share what I read in the morning or late at night at more reasonable times, so the two together make me much more efficient.

Before I’d been using Hootsuite, which includes the ability to schedule updates, but by using separate apps rather than one I actually gained more flexibility and only lost features that I didn’t really use (such as being able to separate out different types of mentions and replies using Hootsuite’s columns). The fantastic integration between Buffer and Pocket, and across browsers on my laptop and phone apps is what really makes this work, as I can pick up something again later really easily. On the other hand, Hootsuite is currently still better for scheduling updates for specific times, or controlling accounts across multiple users (I suspect – I’ve not actually used that feature).

Update: I realised that I should be more specific about why I like these two services before I suggest improvements, so here goes:

Pocket

  • Successfully saves the complete content of an article without adverts 99% of the time
  • Includes playable videos and photos
  • Integration with Twitter so you can save an article another user has linked to straight from their tweet, without even having to open it first
  • Syncs for offline access across my laptop and phone
  • Browser extensions to quickly save articles
  • The ability to follow a link within a saved
  • Very useful keyboard shortcuts in the desktop app
  • Easy tagging of posts within the app and immediately after having saved them
  • Great iPhone app
  • Links with Twitter, Buffer and Evernote accounts (although Evernote integration seems to have been slightly less successful the few times I’ve tried to use it)
  • The ability to email articles to my Pocket account (great for iPhone apps that aren’t fully integrated with it)
  • Great design and interface

I’ve actually used Pocket to do final preparation on the way to interviews because you can quickly access a lot of grouped content.

Buffer

  • Simple and good-looking design and interface
  • Very useful browser extension (so far just Chrome I think) and app
  • Integration with Twitter as well as LinkedIn
  • Easy to choose regular update times
  • I can choose to send a tweet now if I change my mind whilst writing it
  • Simple to change the order of scheduled updates
  • Basic analytics for tracking posts
  • Integration with bit.ly URL shortening service
  • Ability to schedule updates via email
  • Easy to turn ’empty Buffer’ email off – seriously, sometimes it’s so hard just to change your email settings for some services

I do have some (very) small suggestions for improvements:

  • Specific timings for tweets in Buffer. They state on their website that this feature will arrive at some point, so I’m not worried, but it would be nice to be able to schedule an update for a particular time or day in the future.
  • Offline drafting of posts in Buffer. This would be a great feature, as at the moment it’s possible to read an article in Pocket without an internet connection, but not to write a tweet about it, and I have to wait until later instead.
  • Integration with twitter usernames in Buffer. At the moment the app doesn’t really support including people you follow in tweets, and you have . To be honest this seems to me to be a bit hit and miss across Twitter, not just in Buffer, so I’m not really blaming them.
  • Folders in Pocket? At the moment Pocket supports tags, which work well, but I wonder whether it might be useful to have folders as well. Of course that might make things more complicated, so I’m happy for them to leave things as they are.
  • Default layout of tweets. This really is a minor issue, and maybe one only I care about, but for some reason I prefer not to leave links to the end of my tweets, and it would be nice (although by no means necessary) to be able to choose where in the tweet the link appears by default. On the other hand, the world will hardly stop turning if this doesn’t happen.
  • Buffer integration with WordPress – I actually thought of this whilst writing this post, but it would be a great feature, given that I often want to tweet about blog posts at a different time to publishing them. This would really require the ability to schedule posts for a specific time though, so is one area where Hootsuite is better.

As the team behind Buffer have made it clear that they are following the Lean Startup model, and building up slowly into a completed app from a Minimum Viable Product with very few features, I don’t really mind that there are a few very specific missing features (and as I’ve said, I think one of them is an issue across Twitter as a whole). The features Buffer does have are executed very simply and elegantly, and I’m trusting that more will gradually be added. As for Pocket, there aren’t really very many features I can think of to add, it’s just a great service already.

Finally, the icing on the cake with Buffer is the combination of genuinely nice, well-written emails (although I haven’t actually tested their claim of answering 80% of emails within 6 hours) and a very interesting blog.

Advertisements

Tell us what you think...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s