Google recently released Chrome 57 across its supported platforms, with the Windows version sporting better background tab efficiency. But the iOS version includes a unique new functional update: An integrated Read Later feature.
Most Chrome users on Windows would agree that any improvements to Chrome performance and resource usage are quite welcome. But it’s interesting to see Google adding such an overt new end-user feature as Read Later. And only on iOS, at least for now.
I have to assume this is a response to Pocket, the “read it later” solution I use and recommend. (Yes, Microsoft Edge offers a similar feature, but that isn’t cross-platform and thus may as well not even exist.) As you may know, Pocket was recently purchased by Mozilla, but it’s been integrated into that company’s Firefox web browser for some time already … on Windows. To get this same functionality in Chrome or other browsers, you have to first install the Pocket browser extension.
I will further assume that Chrome’s Read Later feature will come to Android, Windows, and Mac. Given my lengthy time using Pocket, and its great functionality, I won’t be switching to Chrome Read Later. But … Still. Interesting.
On iOS, Read Later works similar to Pocket: When you find a web article or post you wish to read, you open the Chrome menu, select Share, and then choose Read Later from the pop-up that appears. As you can see, this choice sits in the grayscale list of system options on the bottom and, as such, it’s not as quickly recognizable as the Pocket icon, which is in color. That said, it’s there automatically, which might drive usage.
Chrome for iOS also maintains a Reading List, which you can access from the menu as well. When you do, you load the full web page, and not a nice reading view. It’s not clear if this is cached in any way.
I’m curious why Google is going after this functionality given that it has ignored other features that built into competing browsers. For example, you still need to download Chrome extensions for such basic features as a Reading Mode—available in Safari, Edge, and elsewhere—and ad blocking.