Pocket the RSS Reader

Editor’s note: If you just want to know how to do this, click here to skip to the tutorial section.

Ever since I said bye-bye to Google Reader when Google gave it the prognosis, I’ve been hunkered up in my bedroom, crying the days away. There wasn’t a moment I didn’t think of Google Reader and the days we shared. We had no idea at the time that they were numbered, but when we were given the notice that they only had months to live, I became disenfranchised.

I started looking elsewhere and, being unsatisfied with Inoreader, disappointed with Feedly, I decided to use what I already had. I bodged together something that made little sense from the outside, but did just the trick for my purposes. It’s not a perfect solution, nor would one consider it an adequate replacement because of the roundabout involved, but it works; I would argue, better than most RSS readers.

The problem with regular RSS readers is that that’s all they read. They just look at the RSS feed and present that in a format that’s legible to most humans. It doesn’t matter if the article isn’t completely there, the RSS reader doesn’t know that. Many of the bigger news outlets are so guilty of this. The only thing that’s in the RSS feed is the link to the article and a small excerpt of the full article. This is so that you visit the outlet’s actual website and maybe click on their ads.

Author’s note: I understand this practice but I don’t condone it. There are other ways to make money that don’t involve wasting my mobile data with obtrusive ads.

For the uninitiated, Pocket, formerly known as Read it Later, is a service that allows you to save articles for reading later. The joy of using a service like Pocket is that you get to choose how the news or blog posts are served to you and how it looks when you read it. My two favourite features of Pocket are that all the ads are stripped and you’re just left with text and that I can read the articles in white text on a true black background. The best part is certainly the fact that the whole article is brought into the app. The problem, however, is that it won’t fetch this for you.

Now, I’m aware that I can simply just sign up for an RSS reader service like Feedly, and manually import the news of the day into Pocket, but where’s the joy in that? Let’s make the process of importing RSS feeds into your Pocket queue.

IFTTT is a fantastic service that allows you to basically make a rube Goldberg machine out of your digital endpoints. IFTTT stands for If this then that. To expand on that, if X(this) thing happens, then do Y(that). In this case, we’re going to employ IFTTT to add a link to your Pocket queue, any time a new post in an RSS feed appears. If new post exists, then add post to Pocket.

How-To

  1. Have a Pocket account
  2. Sign up for IFTTT
  3. In your IFTTT account go to the Services: Pocket page and click Connect.
  4. Now that your IFTTT account is connected to Pocket, visit your Applets page and click New Applet
  5. Click +this and select RSS Feed as the desired service

  6. Click New feed item and in the Feed URL box, enter the URL for an RSS feed you’d like to have added to your Pocket queue automatically, then click Create trigger
  7. Click +that and choose Pocket as the action service
  8. Select Save for later

At this point, the rest of the process is up to you. You can just click Create Trigger and then click Finish and you’re done. I would suggest doing a little more customization, because there’s some cool stuff that will help you use Pocket as more of an RSS reader than a save-for-later-reading service. Before you click Create Trigger you’ll notice that you have a section where you can add Tags. Use this to your advantage. So whenever you add a feed in a regular feed reader, you might categorize your feeds by topic.

For example, you might categorize my site as “tech” or “tech opinion.”

Now, the other side of this resides within the Pocket apps, web and/or mobile. If you open the app on your phone you might notice that by the home button, there’s some arrows:

If you tap on that, it’ll reveal a list and if you scroll down, you’ll see a list of tags:

These are now your categories. Tap on one of the tags and you’ll see all the articles not archived that have that tag. And that’s the trick!

Hopefully this tutorial didn’t feel too roundabout.

1 Comment Posted

  1. I would see why this could be usefull for some but as somebody that uses Pocket for reading articles latter I don’t think I could use it that way, though it could be cool with Pocket’s integration into my Kobo. I’ll explore the possibility of changing my Pocket use to Wallabag or Instapper (or creating a second Pocket account) to try this out.

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