Before iOS debuted app extensions inside the system-wide share sheet, many social apps opted to use custom sharing extensions that allowed you to save content in Pocket or Instapaper to read later. These custom actions were often quite unique, ultra-fast, and generally quite reliable.
The debut of app extensions effectively eliminated those custom sharing actions to Pocket and Instapaper. Within a few software release cycles, apps like Tweetbot and Reeder opted to shelve development of their own sharing extensions for Pocket or Instapaper and left the sharing mechanism to the system-wide system.
The system-wide workflow looks like this:
- Tap the share sheet button.
- Tap on Pocket or Instapaper, or, if you haven’t edited the order of your list, scroll to find Pocket or Instapaper, or, if you haven’t put Pocket or Instapaper in your top 12 apps, tap “More” and scroll to Pocket or Instapaper.
- Wait for your content to save before tapping “Tap to Dismiss” (specifically in Pocket).
- Add tags (if you wish).
In hindsight, this feels like a lazy decision and has hampered the speed and efficiency of saving content to any read-it-later queue.1 Nevermind the fact both the Pocket and Instapaper sharing extensions feel atrociously buggy, the default system-wide method requires more taps and more time, most of the time — for the times when these extensions misfire, you have to work through the tap-dance all over again.
Unread 2 continues to use custom sharing extensions for both Pocket and Instapaper as part of the app’s “Article Actions” feature. Simply choose which read-it-later service you want on hand at all times, swipe to the right when reading, tap the appropriate button, and your content is saved for later.2
Swipe. Tap. Saved.
Unread’s development team will be responsible for keeping these Article Actions features up to date (whereas Pocket and Instapaper’s development teams would be responsible for keeping their share sheet extensions up to date were Unread to opt to use the share sheet instead), so I recognize there’s some extra overhead for development teams here.
But as a whole, Unread’s decision to stick with custom sharing to Pocket or Instapaper is a major improvement over the system-wide share sheet.
I’d like to see some other app developers go back to creating their own custom sharing extensions.
More overhead. More work. But a vastly superior experience for the user.
Update: It has been noted that you can set a default read-later swipe in Reeder. Once enabled, if you swipe right or left on an article in the article list, the article will be instantly saved to your read-later app of choice. This is such an obvious feature and I apologize for missing it.
I recognize there are a plethora of read-it-later services out there, each of which would potentially require its own sharing development. That being said, I’m willing to bet the majority of users use either Pocket or Instapaper. That’s 51%-plus of users, if my math is correct. ↩
And even if you haven’t opted to save one of the Article Actions to your main swipe menu for quick use, it’s still only one extra tap to find Pocket or Instapaper. No scrolling. Just one extra tap. ↩