Popular reading app Pocket has launched its biggest update since being acquired by Mozilla in February 2017, adding a listen feature to play articles as audio.
The app has been drastically redesigned, with new themes, fonts and typography, and is even more uncluttered than before, giving each article more space on your My List hub page than before.
The new listen feature is the most drastic improvement to an already great app in years. It works using Amazon's Polly text-to-speech capability, which is available from the cloud vendor off-the-shelf, and takes just a few seconds to render the audio. The result takes some getting used to as the voice is pretty robotic, but it's actually a nice way to consume articles in bite-sized chunks or while on your commute.
The company said in a statement: "Our lives don’t always have a quiet moment with a coffee cup in hand with Pocket in the other. We have work to do, kids to take care of, school to attend. But with Pocket we've always worked hard to ensure that Pocket gives you tools to fit content around your life, freeing you from the moment of distraction and putting you in control."
Personally speaking, listening to longform seems like a bastardisation of the form. Truly great narrative journalism deserves to be consumed in its intended form, but I find the audio feature particularly useful for consuming heavy news analysis, like the recent investigation into the US President Donal Trump's tax affairs in the New York Times, which clocked in at 13,000 words.
The 7.0 Pocket update is available on Android and iOS now and the web version is available as a beta, simply opt-in at the top of the page.