PushPin: The King is Back

It seems as though not too long ago, my search (or rather quest) for the ultimate Pinboard client on iOS came to a conclusion, in which I wholeheartedly declared PushPin as king. In my review for AppStorm, I boldly stated:

If you were to ask me wether I’d recommend Pushpin, the answer would be a big, resounding yes! The bottom line is – if you only buy one Pinboard client for iOS, then I’d recommend Pushpin.

Since then, Pinswift made it's debut on the AppStore. For a moment, it seemed as though it's lightning fast speed and full text search1 would dethrone Pushpin... Just for a moment though.

The lack of and iPad version and tag browser meant that I'd remain faithful to Pushpin even though it's much anticipated update seemed far in the horizon. Fortunately, and sooner than I thought, Dan Loewenherz reached out and invited me to test the new and shiny Pushpin. Boy was the wait worthwhile!

Out With the Old, in With the New

The most noticeable difference is the new UI. Pushpin eschewed it's former subtle grey visuals in favor of bright colors and simple iconography. Much like Pinswift, Pushpin uses different colors for specific sections. The clever use of color doesn't end there however. When viewing any of the community feeds, tags have different colors too, allowing me to easily distinguish between users and tags (via:user or normal tag).

(image: 01.png title:Smart Colored Tags alt:Smart Colored Tags)

Also new is the ability to have Pushpin show me a compressed view of my bookmarks. Essentially, this limits each bookmark to a maximum of 2 lines, instead of showing every bit of detail. While I opt to view everything, I do find it refreshing to have choice for a change.

Speaking of choice, It's been a while now since I've chosen to forgo the mainstream read later services and use Pinboard instead. Pushpin, with it's integrated Instapaper mobilizer makes this an immensely pleasant experience2. I'd add just two little things though:

  1. Offline cache of unread bookmarks, akin to Pinner;
  2. A visual cue in the bookmark feed for unread bookmarks (similar to the small icon for private bookmarks).

The visual cue would simply make things that much easier, especially when doing batch edits. Yes, that's right. Batch edits are on their way in a much improved manner. Currently, I can delete or mark read/unread in batch, but more options are already in the pipeline.

Search, Speed and All That

Speed is undoubtedly an important factor, and until now, Pushpin is second only to Pinswift (in my tests anyway). Bookmarks load and update with little to no delay and search — search is just crazy fast. I can filter a list of thousands of bookmarks to just a few in a blink of an eye. This is a remarkable feat when you factor in what it's searching — and that's everything.

Pushpin now searches the entire text content of my bookmarks3. I can however choose to search only the title, description, tag or all. I can take things one step further and use operators in my search too. Searching for python OR automation will yield different results to searching for python AND automation.

A spinoff of search are saved feeds. They allow me to view every public bookmark that matches criteria I set, such as any combination of user and/or tags. However, as great as saved feeds are, I wasn't using them to their fullest potential simply because adding them to each of my devices was a tedious task. This update fixes that by introducing iCloud sync of saved feeds.

If saved feeds aren't your thing though, you'll be happy to know that the geeky few who appreciate the flexibility or URL schemes aren't left out in the cold. While this update doesn't add anything new4, you're still able to create intricate actions in Drafts or Launch Center Pro to search your feeds.

The URL scheme to view a feed is puhpin://feed?. Either user or tags are required and multiple tags must be separated with a comma. Empowered by this knowledge, we can now easily construct our actions.

Launch Center Pro

Taking advantage of Launch Center Pro's excellent [prompt-list] we can simply type as many tags as desired. Do however keep this to a sensible limit. Create a new action and add the following URL:

pushpin://feed?user=[prompt:User]&tags=[prompt-list:Tags]

(link:http://launchcenterpro.com/kn69c7 text:Tap) to install on iOS.

To search just for a specific user or set of tags, remove the corresponding entry.

Drafts

If you'd prefer to use Drafts to search for tags, then we can take a page out of Phillip's book to do so.

Leveraging TextTool's powerful transformation features, we can take our draft and turn it into a viable search pattern separated by commas:

texttool://x-callback-url/transform?text=[[draft]]&method=join&delimiter=,&x-success={{pushpin://feed?tags=[[output]]}}

(link:drafts://x-callback-url/import_action?type=URL&name=Search%20User%20and%20Tags&url=texttool%3A%2F%2Fx-callback-url%2Ftransform%3Ftext%3D%5B%5Bdraft%5D%5D%26method%3Djoin%26delimiter%3D%2C%26x-success%3D%7B%7Bpushpin%3A%2F%2Ffeed%3Ftags%3D%5B%5Boutput%5D%5D%7D%7D text:Tap) to install on iOS.

More to Come

If you read through my review for AppStorm, you'd know already that I had an item or two on my wish list. I'm happy to say I can now check them off:

The amount of work and level of polish that has gone into this update really shines through. Despite that, a little birdie has told me that this is just the beginning. Still to come is much, much more. In the following updates we should expect to see:

  1. Offline cache for unread bookmarks;
  2. In-app / native reader view.
  3. Customizable main feed list (hide/display the ones you care about).
  4. Better batch editing, such as adding/removing tags from multiple bookmarks;
  5. Even better search with a dedicate search screen to quickly hone in on specific bookmarks.

I've said it before and I'll gladly say it again. If you buy only one Pinboard client for iOS, then your best bet would be Pushpin. You can get it on the App Store for $9.99


  1. Available to those that have Pinboard's archival account. 

  2. Word on the street is that Dan's working on his own custom mobilizer which promises to deliver top notch features, especially in the realm of read later. 

  3. Once again, you need a Pinboard archival account for this to work. 

  4. The URL scheme should see some improvement in the next few incremental updates, introducing full x-callback-url support.