Now, along comes Spool, which promises to do much of the same link-saving as Read It Later and Instapaper, with the added perk of being able to do the same with video. We’ve been playing around with Spool, which remains in invite-only mode, for the past several days and found that it works (mostly) as advertised.
We also have invites available for those of you who want to try Spool out but don’t want to wait around for an invite of your own.
CEO and co-founder Avichal Garg said he and co-founder Curtis Spencer came up with the idea when they noticed there was no guarantee they’d be able to pull up content on their phone, or be able to access the same bits of content across multiple devices.
Garg and Spencer are calling the technology behind the service SpoolBot, which Garg described as an artificial intelligence and computer vision engine. By residing on a server, SpoolBot can essentially translate content on a Web page into a format your device can understand. Garg said it was also good at keeping pace with changes on the sites where content is culled.
“What we wanted for ourselves was a simple way to have our favorite content always available, without worrying about which device I’m on (my Android phone vs. my iPad), where I am (inside, outside, home, work), or what kind of media it is (text, pdf, video),” Garg said in an email. “With one click you can save content from any of your devices, and that content shows up on all of your other devices too, is available offline, and is converted into a format that will work for you. So you don’t need to worry about Flash and you don’t need to worry about whether your phone has a PDF reader.”
The one exception to that assertion that I found after a weekend of accessing a wide range of content in New York City’s mostly WiFi-free subway system on my iPhone, iPad and laptop were YouTube videos, which can only be accessed with an Internet connection because of licensing agreements. As an aside, it also seemed as if YouTube videos accessed through Spool had more advertisements than when the same video was accessed straight through YouTubes site, and it was trickier to skip over ads using Spool than it is on YouTube.
I also didn’t like that I couldn’t tag videos and content or organize it into lists: my only choices were Unread, Read, Favorites and Archived. Garg assured me that adding some sort of organization and classification system was on the firm’s to-do list and should be available within the next few weeks.
Saving material on Spool was, for the most part, easy. A Google Chrome extension allowed me to save videos and other content with one click. Setting up the widget on other devices was slightly more time-consuming.
Spool also connects to DropBox, allowing you to save content in a folder on DropBox and then have it automatically saved on your Spool. Users can also push content to Facebook from the Android app, the webapp, and the Chrome browser extension, with plans to add the feature to the Firefox extension and iOS app.
Users cannot, however, push content to Twitter. “We used to let users Tweet out from within the app. We’ve removed this feature because very few users used it,” Garg said. “We’re going to soon launch a feature to let users tweet links at us and we’ll put those URLs into Spool.”
Spool will remain in it’s beta, invite-only phase at least until the Spring. ReadWriteWeb readers, however, can try Spool out without waiting for an invite.