Apple Acquires Workflow
Apple acquires Workflow, a strong evidence of how successful and irreplaceable Workflow has been. Although the upsides of this purchase have yet to emerge (except Workflow is free now), I immediately face the downside of it—Workflow has pulled the support for Pocket, a read-it-later service that I heavily rely on every day. This is probably the first time I feel quite disappointed about Workflow.
I spend a tremendous portion of my reading time on Kindle because of its glare-free screen and distraction-free reading environment. I save all the articles I’m intrigued to Kindle and often immerse myself for hours in it.
Although there are various sources of my reading materials, my routine buddies are the New York Times, the Economist, and the New Yorker. Since I don’t need real-time news update, I deliver them to my Kindle once a week. The backbone of my “readflow” is Workflow (of course), Pocket, and p2k.co, a web service that links your Pocket list and your Kindle device.
For instance, I have a workflow that takes advantage of the New York Times API, which allows me to filter the articles based on my own query keyword and their published date. Once fetched, the articles are then sent to my Pocket and tagged as nyt. Now it’s time when p2k.co comes in. It monitors your Pocket articles, sends them to you Kindle at a specified time (either one time or recurring) in a magazine format.
The basic plan, free, can meet basic requirements, but with only $3 a month, I can deliver the articles attached with a specified tag, say, nyt, and rename the file I received, which is very helpful as I can quickly tell the news sources on my kindle.
For other sources, I use their dedicated rss feeds.
To wrap up, the whole flow starts (and ends) with one tap—the Run button of my workflow. The next time I pick up my Kindle, the articles are lying there awaiting me.
Gone With The Purchase
As Apple acquired Workflow, this method has become the story of yesterday.
If Pocket was just for reading later, I wouldn’t be so freaked out because there are alternatives, namely Instapaper and Apple’s domestic Reading List which is built in Safari. In practice, I seldom open the Pocket app, nor its webpage. Pocket, an elegant app for reading, serves merely as a relay in my case. I heavily count on p2k.co’s rich configurations to tailor for my own needs.
As I have to move on, I’ve considered a range of possible solutions and found Zapier fits the best so far.
- Instapaper. I used to be an Instapaper premium subscriber, simply because of its abilities to deliver its content to Kindle. But there are two major issues of this service, which eventually made me give it up.
- First, Instapaper uses folders instead of tags. That’s fine in terms of organizing the articles. But when it comes to the delivering service, anything in custom folders cannot be delivered.
- Second, once the articles are sent to Kindle, they will not be archived. The main list just keeps growing.
With these problems, I cannot return to Instapaper.
- Email to Pocket. You can send a link to email@example.com. Then Pocket will download the content of that link. But it seems that it doesn’t support adding tags.
- Zapier. With the zap Save new RSS items to Pocket, which supports tags, I can fetch posts from the Economist and the New Yorker with ease (actually easier, because the Workflow step can be omitted). In this sense, this is not a stopgap, I would call it a better solution.
But while I still prefer the New York Times API, there is still no perfect solution.
I’m embracing Zapier now. But without the lost of the old, I wouldn’t be able to find the new (though I’ve been using Zapier to integrate my toggl time entries with Google Calendar). I will look for a way to leverage the NYT API, other than that, Zapier remains a solid solution.
Next time I hear news of Workflow, I hope Apple has prepared something inspiring.