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Pinswift: A Powerful Pinboard Client for iOS 7

Pinswift for iPhone

Pinswift for iPhone

Developed by Joel Carranza, Pinswift is a new $4.99 Pinboard client for iPhone that packs powerful bookmark management, discovery, and search features in an interface specifically designed for iOS 7. Since trying one of the early betas a couple of months ago, I’ve been keeping Pinswift on my iPhone’s Home screen as it offers (almost all) of the Pinboard functionalities I need on a daily basis.

I use Pinboard to bookmark and archive webpages as much as I rely on it as a discovery tool for interesting links and users. As I showed in the past with Editorial, browsing my Pinboard network or a public feed of tags is a frequent activity in my workflow as I like to see what people with similar interests to mine are researching or reading about. The social functionalities of Pinboard aren’t the primary selling aspect of the service (which is actually presented as “social bookmarking for introverts”), but they’re there if you want to peruse them.

Pinswift is elegant and colorful. Designed for iOS 7, it revolves around the “pushpin” menu (icon in the top right corner) that lets you switch between the Pinboard sections supported by the app:

  • My Bookmarks
  • Unread
  • Untagged
  • Public
  • Private
  • Network
  • Popular
  • Wikipedia
  • Fandom

There are some nice touches and ideas worth noting in this screen. For instance, each section has a custom icon; sections related to your personal account are colored in blue, while public ones (like Popular) are green, with Network sitting in the middle with a light blue/green hue. The use of color and clean iconography is a smart take on iOS 7’s design principles because it’s not just eye-candy: thanks to colors, custom icons, and the fact that you can disable shortcuts you don’t need, sections become instantly recognizable so you can switch between them in a second after you invoke the menu.

Pinswift for iPhone

Pinswift for iPhone

The transition from the menu to a view is delightful without feeling overwhelming or slow – it’s just nice to look at. Title bars are colored accordingly to each section’s color, so that you’ll know if you’re looking at Network or Popular bookmarks just by glancing at the top of the screen.

The way you browse bookmarks is nothing revolutionary (you scroll through a list), but, again, Pinswift gets many details just right. If you swipe an item to the right, you can view a details popup with additional ionformation such as URL, tags, a timestamp, and a button to quickly copy someone else’s bookmark to your account; hit the button, and Pinswift’s bookmark saving screen comes up, allowing you to enter a description or tags. The usual suspects (tag autocompletion and public/read later settings) are also available.

If you swipe a bookmark to the left, Pinswift will show you the native iOS 7 share sheet, which includes AirDrop and Reading List and that has been augmented with shortcuts to save a link to Pocket or Instapaper, send it to Drafts, or open it in 1Password. The selection of third-party apps is small right now as Carranza only included the essential ones, and I’d expect the list to grow in the future; the good news is that, if you don’t care about apps, you can disable them in the app’s Settings.

Pinswift for iPhone

Pinswift for iPhone

Pinswift excels in the more advanced features available for Pinboard power users. To my knowledge, Pinswift is the only iPhone app capable of performing a full-text search on bookmarks for users who are subscribed to Pinboard’s archival system, which saves a full copy of a webpage for future reference. The search bar, available in the switcher menu, lets you look for bookmarks that match a specific text (title or description) or tags in the Network or Public feed (what the app calls “Everyone”), but, if you have an Archival account, you can search for the full text of a cached bookmark. In my tests, Pinswift was capable of finding 90% of the search terms I wanted to try with full text search, but there were some results that didn’t want to show up – an issue that might as well be related to the Pinboard API and not the app itself.

Any search (tags, text, or full text) can be pinned to the main menu as a shortcut; this can be very handy if you’re constantly browsing public feeds by tag and you want a quick way to access them. You can even tap on a tag on someone else’s bookmark and add a specific user’s tag feed as a shortcut in Pinswift; alas, unlike Pinbrowser, you can’t create shortcuts for users without tag filters.

Carranza thought about iOS nerds as well. I don’t need to explain the URL scheme because he has a well-written documentation page that shows you how you can create actions for Drafts, Launch Center Pro, or any other iOS app to add new bookmarks, view tags or users, launch searches (even full text ones), open specific sections, and chain Pinswift to other apps with x-callback-url. He also created a bookmarklet that you can install (and modify with x-callback-url integration) to quickly bookmark pages in Pinswift from Safari.

Pinswift is powerful, fast, and it has a nice iOS 7 design with an intelligent use of color. Pinswift is off to a great 1.0 with features that clients that have been available for several months still don’t have, but it doesn’t have an iPad version yet. I’m looking forward to improvements to the list of supported third-party apps for sharing; there should be an easier way to add bookmarks manually without using pasteboard URL detection; and, I hope that Carranza is working on a way to browse user feeds without tags.

As it stands now, Pinswift is my favorite Pinboard client for iPhone on iOS 7, and it’s available at $4.99 on the App Store.

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