Poki (Windows Phone) review: Read things later with Poki for Windows Phone

Poki's layout is quite a bit different from Pocket's official apps: on Pocket for Android and iOS, you'll generally find a thumbnail from the article in question, as well any tags that you've assigned. Those all sit under a large row of "Highlights," or items Pocket has culled from your list as being potentially of interest.

Poki, by contrast, just displays an article's title, and the site it's from. The lack of extra information means you'll be able to fit quite a few more items on the display, but the official apps feel a lot more colorful, and more pleasant to look at. That said, much of this isn't Poki's fault: the app is beholden to Pocket's API, and features like highlights and auto-tagging simply aren't available.

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Poki looks much different than the official Pocket app for Android. Screenshot by Nate Ralph

Poki makes do. Slide over to the right from your list and you'll get highlights, Poki's own attempt at culling items of interest. In my case, that included articles I'd marked as favorite -- that isn't ideal for me, as my favorites are generally articles I enjoyed and wanted to reference again at some point, not necessarily see surfaced every time I turned to the app. Slide one more step to the right and you'll see all of the tags you've created, and a search bar to find something in your list.

The fourth and final pane offers the settings menu, and some tools to manage your list. You can determine how many articles you want saved onto your device for offline reading (up to 1,000), toggle the gender of the reading voice, and toggle the live tile, which shows your unread count.

It also displays the primary feature I've always wanted to see in the official Pocket app, or on their website, or anywhere: the total count of the items you've got sitting around. I have no idea when I'll find the time to sift through 2,952 articles, links, and videos, but at least I finally know how much catching up I have to do.

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I've got a lot of catching up to do. Screenshot by Nate Ralph/CNET

Poki's settings pane are lists the app's achievements, a cute little extra that admittedly adds nothing tangible to the experience. You'll also find extra purchase options in the settings pane: Poki is free to use, but you'll need to buy Poki Premium to add things like extra themes, and background synchronization, so Poki keeps updated when the app is closed. None of these are at all mandatory, but they're convenient: $2 is a small price to pay for the extra convenience, though you can pay $4 to get access to premium on Poki for Windows Phone and Windows 8.1 -- the desktop version should be arriving later this fall.

A few unfortunate flaws

There are some drawbacks. The official Pocket apps for Android and iOS offer an option that automatically paginates articles, letting you swipe from page to page, Kindle-style. Poki only offers a scrolling option, which I've always found unsatisfying. It feels like a minor quibble, but I'd still like to see the functionality makes its way to this app.

Poki also uses Windows Phone's native sharing functionality, instead of Pocket's built-in account system. Once again, Poki is beholden to Pocket's API so its hands are tied there. But I share articles through Pocket rather often, so it's kind of annoying to see articles I'm passing along being turned into emails, instead of being handled through the app. Worse still, Poki won't notify you if things have been shared with you, so if your friends are active Pocket users, you'll still occasionally need to turn to your browser.

I also ran into an issue with syncing. Changes I made in Poki weren't being reflected in my Pocket account: I'd read a handful of articles on my Lumia 925, only to pop over to Pocket on my Nexus 5 or a browser a few hours later and see them all sitting there. Frustrating, but once I deleted the app and re-installed it, everything worked as advertised.

Conclusion

The Internet is full of stuff -- articles to read, videos to watch -- and all of that is better shared with friends. And that makes Pocket one of the handful of apps I'd consider crucial to my day. It's unfortunate that there's no official Pocket app for Windows Phone, but Poki is a great option. The fact that it doesn't work with Pocket's in-app sharing functionality is a bit of a bummer, but the simple design and rock-solid stability (after my initial hiccup), coupled with extras like a progress tracker and quirky reading achievements, make for a great experience.

Poki is also free, though the extra aesthetic options and background synchronization are well worth $2. If you're a Windows Phone fan who likes Pocket, you should definitely give it a try.

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