Zootool is an outstanding free online bookmarking service packed full of features and crammed into a stunning interface. Until recently, Zootool has only existed as a web app, but it has finally made the jump to iOS.
Today we’ll briefly introduce you to what the service is all about and walk you through the functionality of the new iPhone app. Can Zootool thrive on the small screen? Read on to find out!
What Is Zootool?
Zootool is everything Delicious should’ve turned into had it not been spinning its wheels for the last several years. It’s a visually-driven bookmarking service that allows you to save links, images, videos and more. Each time you save something, a thumbnail is generated for your library, which makes for much easier and more enjoyable browsing than what you get from Delicious.
There’s an important social aspect as well. You can follow any other user to see what they’re saving and watch the public stream to see what the network as a whole is doing. Overall, it’s a really addicting experience that takes a basic idea and executes it masterfully.
Zootool for iPhone: Getting Started
When you first open Zootool, you’ll be brought to the login screen with the iconic Zootool rhino. You can create an account right here if you don’t already have one. Sign up is simple, free and only takes a few seconds.
From here you’ll be brought to the main screen where you essentially have five options: Public Timeline, Your Zoo, People, Your Profile and New Bookmark. We’ll look at each option in-depth below.
The public timeline link takes you to a grid of thumbnails like the one on the left below. Each thumbnail represents a link that someone has saved recently. You can choose from three different ways to filter these results: Everyone, Following and Popular.
I really enjoy browsing through these streams. The “Everyone” stream can yield some pretty random results but it’s a great way to browse randomly if you’re just killing time. The “Following” and “Popular” streams are great for finding quality links and resources. Zootool’s visual nature has led to its acceptance among a lot of designers, so if you are any type of creative professional, you can expect to love Zootool simply for the abundance of awesome links that you’ll find from other users.
Tapping on a link will bring you to the screen on the right where you can view the title and destination URL. You can also share it, like it (add it to your own library) or see more information.
The screenshot below on the left shows you all of the information you can see regarding a given link. From here you can view the name, URL, tags, notes, views, comments and likes regarding a link.
Zootool has a built-in browser that allows you to follow each link without exiting the app and being thrown into Safari. The functionality here is pretty basic but it’s just about everything you need.
I’ve been using Zootool since June, 2009. On top of that, I’ve imported all of my Delicious links, which date back even further. As you can imagine, after years of saving, I have quite a few links in my library! Fortunately, Zootool makes it easy to organize them all and these organization features transfer to the iPhone app.
The two primary methods of organizing your links are tags and packs. Every time you save a link, I recommend adding some quick, generally descriptive tags so that you can easily find it when you search. If you want to go further, you can create packs of similar links such as “web apps” or “funny videos”.
People & Profile
As I mentioned before, Zootool has an excellent social layer to it as well. The iPhone app follows the web app in making it super easy to find interesting users to follow. Under the “People” tab, you can filter users by how active or popular they are or choose to view new and featured users. From here you can see what they’re saving and decide whether or not you want to follow them.
As you can see, you can also view and edit your own profile, which shows the counts for entries, followers and following and some recent things that you’ve bookmarked.
Adding New Bookmarks
To be honest, I expected the Zootool iPhone app to be mostly for browsing links that have already been saved, but it turns out that it’s quite useful for adding new bookmarks as well.
You can do this one of two ways. Hitting the little “+” on the home screen (previously shown above) will create a new bookmark, but this involves manually inserting the URL, which is no fun. The better way is to install the bookmarklet into mobile Safari (accessible from the “new bookmark” menu).
Zootool walks you through the process of installing the bookmarklet, which basically involves saving an empty bookmark and they copying/pasting some code into it. Once you’re up and running, you can hit the bookmarklet from any page in mobile Safari just like you would use the “Lasso” bookmarklet on a desktop.
Once you hit the bookmarklet, the URL will automatically be filled in and you can add tags, notes, packs, etc. If you don’t want everyone to see the links that you save, simply turn off the “Public” option.
How Is It?
As you’ve probably guessed by this point, I’m a huge fan of the Zootool service. I’ve been waiting a long time for this app and fortunately, I wasn’t let down. The functionality is smooth and nearly flawless and I think they’ve done an amazing job of bringing the Zootool experience to the iPhone.
There are a few things that I would like to see in the long run: a list view for links would be nice and maybe some more filtering options for the public timeline (videos, images, etc.). However, these are really tiny complaints and for the most part I think the app is awesome. Now my fingers are crossed for an iPad version!
If you’re still using Delicious, it’s time to switch to a more robust bookmarking service. My favorite option is Zootool. It’s simple, beautiful and flat out fun to browse.
The Zootool app brings nearly the entire desktop experience to the iPhone, a serious feat that could’ve easily gone awry but turned out great. Whether you’re a long-time fan of the service or today is the first time you’ve heard about it, you should definitely try it out for yourself!