I love Pinboard. Until not long ago, I was doubting whether or not I thought it would be a valuable purchase, but holy cow, do I love Pinboard. My problem is finding an iOS app that I really like using Pinboard with — one that meets high standards in design and functionality. It has to work and do most of what I need it to, but it also has to look stunning. Whether or not that makes me shallow is trivial — nobody wants to use ugly apps.
Until recently, none of the apps I’d seen or tried — and even some of the heavily-endorsed apps like Pushpin — are aesthetically pleasing to me. On iOS 7, all of them seem too textured or too heavy for my liking. That’s why I was insanely excited about Pincase — a Pinboard app exclusively for the new iOS. Read on to find out if Pincase can be your new Pinboard home.
A Brief Word About the Design
To put it bluntly, Pincase is a beautiful app. One of my colleagues, a diehard Pushpin user, agreed that Pincase “oozes sex appeal” — his words, not mine! But I couldn’t have said it better. This app is all about putting a focus on content, and it’s a stunner for doing so.
The app is broken down into two main tabs: Discover and Your Bookmarks. Instead of defaulting to open in Your Bookmarks, the app will always make you choose where you want to go. I think that’s a little grating, but I understand its benefit — there is a lot to discover, inherently, on the Pinboard platform.
Regarding the design, I have one massive complaint that I need to address right away: Yes, I agree, the type is set way too small. The grey letters that denote tags and websites are far too low-contrast and difficult to read. It’s terrible on an iPhone and not much better on an iPad. One the other hand, the black text denoting the title of the article is lovely. It would just be nice if text was larger. According to Twitter, Pincase has heard and an update with this is coming. The only other problem I have is that the iPhone app doesn’t support landscape mode yet, and that’s a shame.
Browsing Your Saved Bookmarks
That being said, when you’re done browsing your bookmarks and you’ve found something you’d like to read, the built-in web browser is excellent. There’s no parser for a Read Later view (this is apparently on the way as well), but I’m not sure how often I’ve felt that it needed it. The browser is excellent. I particularly love the translucency in the top toolbar, which is simply beautiful.
Pincase needs to be commended for being editable, as well. You can edit any of the bookmarks you have, including their tags, description, or read/unread status (and even their URL). I don’t use Pinboard as my Read Later service, but my colleague does and he assures me that it handles that workflow perfectly.
It’s also fast. There was no wait time in between adding an article to Pinboard in Safari on my Mac and seeing it show up on my iPhone or iPad, no matter how many times I tried it. This thing moves quick. It syncs in the background and also has the ability to add the last URL on your clipboard to Pinboard for ten minutes (iOS 7’s clipboard time limit).
There are some other features that will interest you if you use Pinboard on a regular basis. Its search edit allows you to search by tag, years, and domain, which is a really nice touch. You can also batch edit, which means you can mark multiple items as read (or unread), delete, or tag without having to do it multiple times. I was surprised to find out that Pushpin doesn’t offer this, so if you’re keeping up a comparison checklist, make a note.
The app also supports some of Pinboard’s social APIs, which are built into the Discover section. The discover section is smartly designed, not unlike Your Bookmarks, but the app always asked if I’d like to display the Rich Version of what I saw. I always said yes, but I couldn’t see a difference.
In Discover, you can see what’s Popular (in Pinboard’s top 150), Recent, or Trending tags. You can also see the latest feed from the tags you’re following and manage them.
What you can’t do, though, is follow people or search for multiple criteria. For example, you can’t search for a user and a tag like you can with Pushpin. I don’t use Pinboard as a social network like that, but if you do, you might be disappointed by the app’s exclusion of the feature. I don’t think it’s a deal breaker — after all, things like this can always be iterated on later — but it is mildly disappointing.
What makes it a little odd that you can’t follow anybody is that you can see their @ user name displayed in these sections. Again, it’s an odd exclusion.
One thing that I love about Pincase, though, is that the design is consistent all the way through. I keep coming back to this. There’s a sense of ease, because the design is thoughtful and cohesive with itself. Once you know how to navigate your own bookmarks, it’s easy to navigate the shared and trending bookmarks.
I have to bring this up because I don’t feel the other clients available feel this cohesive on iOS 7 yet. While I look forward to seeing an updated Pushpin, I can also get behind a smartly-designed app that does everything I need it to right now and looks amazing. I think Pincase fits the bill, and I’m sure you’ll agree.