Facebook is going to introduce “read-it-later” features into its mobile app, published reports say. That shouldn’t come as a surprise because this was one of the core offerings of Spool, a tiny startup Facebook acquired earlier this summer. Many believed that it was an acqui-hire type acquisition, but at the time I argued that Facebook wanted the technology for its mobile applications:
Spool had built its own media-distribution network using servers and caching media content in various data centers. Web content you saved can be parsed, cached, queued up and made available for quick access on the apps or on the web. The approach to cache and share content extended beyond just web page content. It also allowed you to watch videos or other media inside the Spool app as well — spooled for instant view or offline viewing later.
Facebook was attracted to this media content sharing technology and in all likelihood will make it a part of its infrastructure for its web and mobile apps. Facebook has struggled with its mobile apps that continue to suffer from performance issues. The company is working hard to launch iOS optimized apps, but it would need to overcome many hurdles to provide a seamless experience.
Dropbox, Google and Twitter were also in the market for Spool. Marco Arment, the ace-coder behind popular read-it-later app Instapaper, writes on his blog: “At this point, I’m more surprised by apps and services that don’t have their own read-later features.”