Magpie review: A reading list app for your videos

Apps that let you save web pages for later reading are pretty common. There’s Instapaper and Pocket, both of which are cross-platform. And there are also built-in versions, such as the Reading List apps in Windows 10 and iOS/OS X. But there isn’t anything that does a similar job just for video.

That’s where Magpie comes in. Magpie is intended to be a kind of reading list for video. It works on iOS (both iPhone and iPad are supported) and OS X, and it has a tvOS app so it’ll also work on the latest Apple TV. Whenever you’re watching a video in Safari (or any other app that supports the Share menu), you can use the Extensions menu to save it to Magpie.

Magpie review

If it’s hosted on YouTube or Vimeo, you can then watch it in Magpie’s native player, which does some smart things such as preserving the location you’ve got to in a video across platforms. If it’s not hosted on either of these, it saves a bookmark to the whole web page, so you can revisit the page later. 

It’s nice to be able to start watching something on the iPad and then move to Apple TV, picking up at the exact same point

What it doesn’t do is save the video for offline viewing, so don’t expect to be able to pack your Wi-Fi-only iPad with YouTube videos to keep the kids amused on a long car journey. This makes it much less like Instapaper or Pocket, both of which do save (text) articles for reading offline.

It’s also worth noting that the OS X application will cost you additional money, so if you want to save from the Mac for later viewing on your iOS device you’ll have to invest more. There’s no free bookmarklet to let you save just from Safari.

In use, Magpie works exactly as promised. It’s certainly nice to be able to start watching something on the iPad and then move to Apple TV, picking up at the exact same point. But unfortunately, because Apple has chosen not to build browsing capabilities into Apple TV, this only works for YouTube and Vimeo videos.

At present, Magpie is a promising application that’s not quite a must-have, unless you watch a lot of YouTube and like to be able to bounce between platforms. It would be good to see the list of video providers that the player supports increased, and if Magpie could also offer offline viewing by caching the video locally, it would be a highly recommended product. At the moment, though, it’s useful for some people, but probably not something most users should invest in.

See also: The best iPhone and iPad apps of 2015 – the very best the App Store has to offer

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