Windows Phone Store may not have an official app for the Pocket ‘Read it Later’ service, but that doesn’t stop it from having a catalogue of third-party apps which do a good job of bringing the service over to the Windows platform. I think many Windows Phone Pocket users will agree with me when I say that of all the third party apps we have in the store, Poki for Pocket is one of the best designed and pleasing to use one. In my case, I didn’t even use Pocket extensively until I ran into Poki.
We recently had the opportunity of having a conversation with the developer of Poki, Tobias Klika, about Windows Phone, Windows and Pocket in general. Being a third party app developer for a service on Windows Phone isn’t easy. You are constantly at the mercy of API changes, features rolling out faster than you can handle and irate users asking you why this and that feature isn’t available yet for free with NO ADS. Very rarely do people ever consider the developer’s side of the story. Well, what we have here is Tobias’s side of the Poki story, read and enjoy.
Start us off with a little about yourself and why you started out developing for Windows and Windows Phone.
My name is Tobias Klika, I am 26 and from Austria in Europe. I have started my own company “cee” a year ago and focus on creating web and mobile apps. In my next life, I will probably become a game developer. When not sitting in front of my computer I spend my time at the local skatepark and with my girlfriend.
In 2014, my goal was to learn a new language (C#), one of the programming languages which can be used for Windows development (and also for web development). As a programming exercise, I have created a library which connects to/synchronizes with Pocket. As I wanted to find a use for it and already owned a Windows Phone I just started to create an app on top of this library.
I’m a really big fan of saving website pages for reading later. What gave you the inspiration to create a Windows Phone Pocket client – and where did the name Poki come from? It’s quite catchy.
My project names always have to be short (3-6 chars) and catchy. For Poki I needed it to sound similar to Pocket to create an association. The first internal versions were called “Pockem”, but that wasn’t good enough and I needed something more “cute”.
Before creating the app, I started using the service Pocket. I had to travel a few hours every day and wanted to save interesting articles while at work so I have something to read later on. I tried all available clients but was not satisfied with the experience. So I started to create my own client, only for me and with the plan to never publish it.
The design of the Poki apps both on Windows Phone and Windows designs are great. They have a lot of subtle animations and “little delighters” to use for a Microsoft buzzword. How did you come about all those little experience enhancers?
Well, I guess that’s just intuition… not sure if it takes a lot of re-iterations to create a single screen and make it visually appealing. I do test everything again and again to see what is cool and what I could make better. If a page is boring, I try to add something interesting or funny. If an action feels heartless, I try to enhance the experience with an animation.
How well do you think your app stands up to the official Pocket apps on iOS and Android?
Feature-wise I can’t compete with the official app. I don’t have access to Pocket Premium, nor do I have access to a lot of other features like highlights, “send to friend”, suggested tags, trending, account settings, and so on.
My goal is to have a good replacement for Pocket on Windows, where users can enjoy reading their articles. I will never be able to provide a complete Pocket experience as Pocket has no intents to provide new features in their API to third-party developers.
How successful has Poki been, especially after you launched a Windows 8.1 version?
It’s hard to measure the success. The coverage has always been pretty good and the average rating of the app is still at 4.7 (with 3000 reviews). For me it is a huge success!
The Windows version didn’t change things very much as the store is very small compared to Windows Phone and it did not gain much traction there.
Do you have plans for Windows 10 or any more apps for Windows moving forward?
I have no plans for Windows 10 yet and no plans for another Windows store app. My next app will be on Windows, but presumably not in the store.
Speaking of Windows 10 – did Microsoft’s project Astoria and Islandwood concern you at all? Why (or why not)?
At build I was really upset about this news because I thought this would mean the end for all Windows developers, as Android and iOS devs could do their jobs now.
But in fact it’s not that hopeless. These implementations do not (and will never) offer a complete experience, so you still have benefits when developing for Windows with the native tools. They have been built to bring new developers to the platform and give them an idea of the store and the benefits they get on Windows. The goal is to convince these developers to develop native apps for Windows in the long term.
Poki is a high profile app for Windows Phone. Have you received any contact from either Pocket or Microsoft?
Thanks! Yes, I was (and I am still) in contact with Pocket. They offered me support and are still promoting Poki as the official replacement on Windows.
The folks from Microsoft are awesome too. I got to know a lot of them, especially from the Windows Platform team. Last year I was at Microsoft Austria and they offered me promotional support for the app and gave me a Surface so I can test the Windows app.
That’s more than I could have ever asked for!
That’s good to hear. Do you have anything else you would like to share?
Greetings to my brother and my girlfriend 🙂
And if you want to read super-critical things about Microsoft, just follow me on twitter @artistandsocial.
Download Poki for Windows and Windows Phone from the source links below.