Spool, Consuming Cool Stuff When You Want To

Note: This article was originally published on the Gryphon Perspective website. Visit my About page to go to their website.

So what is Spool?

Spool is a free web service that allows you to save web content such as webpages, articles, photos, and videos offline to read later on your mobile device. In addition, the service intelligently clips only the relevant content on the webpage –essentially, the usual clutter of webpages, like ads and menus, won’t appear in your clippings. The activity behind the “spooling” process is conducted by Spoolbots, codes that read the webpages you want to save and format them into a more readable, user-friendly form. Once the Spoolbot is done “trawling”, it will send the clipped article to your online account, as well as to the Spool app on your mobile devices. Content on the mobile app can be read without any Internet connection – you can also access your saved articles online by logging into your account on the Spool website. “Spooling” an article is a one click process – once you have accessed the content you want to spool, just click the “spool” button made by the service’s browser extension. Spool’s servers will do the rest. Below is a diagram accurately displaying the process:

Source: Spool

The Spool team has set ambitious goals for its future – eventually, the team hopes that the service will be intelligent enough to know what you want to clip before you know you want to clip it. Spool would clip the content in the background, and when you wanted to see it, you would go to your phone and it would appear in your queue. This would eliminate the loading time common to slow Internet connections, and would allow you to browse your favorite websites without Internet connection. Although I can’t imagine how Spool can achieve this goal, it would nevertheless be a remarkable change in the way humans access information.

Why is Spool useful – what can I use it for?

There are many uses for Spool. Some of the most common ones include:

  • Saving articles to read on the train or on a flight
  • Filing away research for work or school
  • Making articles easier and less distracting to read (by removing advertisements)
  • Converting videos to a format compatible with iPhones and iPads

What is your opinion on Spool?

I believe that Spool is off to a great start – it has the potential to be a useful, everyday service. As a student, I use Spool mostly for research, but I also read many articles – and reading them on the go is a major plus. However, there are three major suggestions that would make Spool an even better service.

1. Add folder functionality to Spool. I like to keep everything as organized as possible – I love using Spool, but my queue has become unmanageable. Having folders would enable me to be more organized and keep my content in places where I can find them easily. Other similar services such as Instapaper, Evernote, and Read it Later have organizational functionality, and Spool could add this feature as one more thing that it does better than those other services.

2. Add a “reader” to the browser extension. Another feature that would make the service even better to use would be an in-browser reader. Essentially, the Spoolbot would run, but it wouldn’t automatically save content to the queue. Instead it would simply display the content on the browser in its “spooled” form. This would make consuming content much more simple, and it would cut distractions that normally plague web browsing.

3. Incorporate bookmarks into the service. Spool is aiming to revolutionize the conventional web browsing experience, and incorporating bookmarks would move the service one step further towards its goal. The first benefit would be that bookmarks would allow the service to acquire information about users’ browsing preferences, meaning that they would have enough information to automatically clip selections that the user would most likely be interested in – this could be done by having the browser extension extract the bookmarks stored on the browser. The second benefit would be making the Spool mobile app more like a fully-fledged browser.

Overall, I would rate Spool an eight out of ten. Although it does have its flaws, Spool is off to a great start – if the suggestions above were incorporated, the service would be an even better user experience. They have a great concept, great functionality, and a simple process. The best part of it is that it is completely free of charge. I would definitely recommend signing up for the service, which is currently in private beta. Kudos to Spool for making such a great product!

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