Pinbook: Pinboard Goes Native

Pinboard is a simple bookmarking service that allows users to bookmark webpages and funnel in bookmarks from many other services and browsers. Pinboard is similar to Delicious, except significantly faster and less social. Bookmarks are stored in the cloud, so users can access them anywhere. The service features tag support and a read later queue, and bookmarks can be labelled as public or private. The service is available for a one-time fee, which currently sits around $10. The fee grows with each purchase, which serves as a way to prevent unsustainable growth.

Although Pinboard is an excellent service, there’s a lack of solid Pinboard applications in the App Store. The service has a mobile version, but it’s missing many of the perks that native apps take advantage of. Collin Donnell’s Pinbook is a universal Pinboard client that attempts to bring the best aspects of Pinboard to the iPhone and iPad.

Getting Started

Pinboard set out to be a faster alternative to Delicious. Each page of the service’s web client displays the loading time down to fractions of a second, so it’s absolutely vital that an iOS Pinboard app offer the same speed. Pinbook’s sync is blazing fast; simply sign in with a Pinboard account, and the app beams down thousands of bookmarks in seconds.

A look at the basic screen.

A look at the basic screen.

Pinbook’s visual style is a significant improvement over that of Pinboard’s mobile site. The app sticks with a light brown theme, setting aside the stock iOS app color scheme. Pinbook displays bookmarks in a simple list view. Each bookmark entry displays the bookmark title, comments, tags, and date added. The app also places a clock icon next to the bookmark date, if the bookmark is entered as a Read Later article. Pinbook may not win any design awards, but the layout is functional and easy to navigate. Tapping a link brings up the original web page in the in-app browser. Long pressing a bookmark brings up a share menu, as well as the option to mark a bookmark as read or unread.

Users can quickly edit bookmarks with the help of predictive tags.

Users can quickly edit bookmarks with the help of predictive tags.

Pinbook also offers complete bookmark editing options. It’s possible to edit bookmarks by tapping the Compose button in the in-app browser. Bookmarks can be marked as Read Later, set to Private and users can edit or add comments and tags. Pinbook uses predictive tags to ensure that users don’t create multiple tags with slight variations. The tag toolbar appears when the user taps on the bookmark tag field, and tapping a tag suggestion completes the tag entry.

Put a space between each tag to input multiple tags.

Archive Access

Pinboard makes it incredibly easy to add bookmarks from different sources. Users can automatically import their Instapaper feed, archive tweets that contain links and import bookmarks from various browsers. This ease of capture is certainly a perk, but it can quickly lead to a database consisting of thousands of bookmarks, all of which are virtually useless, unless they are easy to sort and filter. The Pinbook developers have implemented an excellent tag filter/search system that simplifies the bookmark search process.

Pinbook's useful tag feature takes the friction out of finding saved bookmarks.

Pinbook’s useful tag feature takes the friction out of finding saved bookmarks.

Tap the File Box icon in the bottom right corner of the list view to activate the filter menu. Users can glide through an alphabetical list of tags or search for specific tags. The menu also includes private, public, unread and untagged filters. Each tag or filter displays a bookmark count, and users can share an entire public tag set by long pressing a tag. This is an excellent way to share research with collaborators or share interesting article sets with Twitter followers. Tags can also be renamed by tapping the Edit button and selecting a tag.

Sort of Social

Pinboard is a private service with social tendencies. Users can mark bookmarks as either public or private, and the Pinboard service aggregates all of the most popular public bookmarks. This transforms Pinboard from a simple bookmarking service into a platform for discovery. Unfortunately, Pinbook doesn’t support Pinboard’s Popular feature. While this may not be a deal breaker, considering the barren Pinboard app landscape, it’s certainly a letdown. Fortunately, the developer makes up for this omission with a superbly designed experience that’s complemented by steady iterative feature implementation.

There are several ways to share links from within Pinbook. The app supports both Safari and Chrome, as well as the regulars: Twitter, Facebook, Instapaper, messages, email and copy to clipboard.

Let Your Geek Flag Fly

Pinbook is a great app for viewing Pinboard tags added from other sources, but url-scheme and clipboard support transform the app into a powerful bookmarking utility. The app detects clipboard urls and gives the user the option to create a new bookmark. Pinbook will even attempt to retrieve the title of the article or webpage at the url address. The app also has a well documented url scheme that works well with apps like Launch Center Pro.

Pinbook allows users to create a bookmark from a clipboard url and imports the title automatically,

Pinbook allows users to create a bookmark from a clipboard url and imports the title automatically.

Pinbook 1.3 added support for the exceedingly popular x-callback-url. This means that Pinbook can share links with apps that support the feature, such as Google Chrome for iOS. The link opens in a supported app which displays a back button that returns users to Pinbook. An x-callback-url can also be used to send urls from apps like Chrome or Safari directly to Pinbook. Once the user has finished entering the bookmark details, Pinbook will return the use to the original app. Frederico Viticci, the mad scientist from MacStories, does an excellent job of explaining how to set up an x-callback-url with Safari or Chrome for iOS.

Pinbook's x-callback-url support means that users can open a link in Chrome and tap the Back button to return to Pinbook.

Pinbook’s x-callback-url support means that users can open a link in Chrome and tap the Back button to return to Pinbook.

The Bottom Line

Pinbook is a solid app, and it’s easy to recommend at $4.99 for the universal version. The app has excellent tag filtering, and the creation and editing options offer a nearly complete Pinboard experience. It’s unfortunate that the app doesn’t take advantage of Pinboard’s discovery tools, but hopefully this is in the pipeline for future updates.


Summary

Pinbook is a snappy Pinboard client that allows users to view, edit, and add Pinboard bookmarks. The app supports integration with other apps via a powerful url scheme.

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