When we first started hearing of the new ‘Read Later’ feature being worked on for Chrome, I was initially very excited. Google has a fantastic service called Collections that works mainly with its own search app and I desperately wanted Chrome to have the innate ability to share web content directly to these Collections. I really thought the ‘Read Later’ feature was the thing I was looking for to bridge that gap.
As the service has come closer and closer to launch, I’ve found that won’t be the case. Instead, ‘Read Later’ functions far more like standard bookmarks with the promise of a few more perks. Of those perks, the ability to sort your items into read and unread is chief among them. Additionally, a quick button to delete read items has also been discussed. As it turns out, in the latest Canary Channel build, ‘Read Later’ has added these abilities and is on the receiving end of a name change, too.
The service now goes by the name ‘Reading List’ and though the UI is clearly un-styled at the moment, you can see how this will work moving forward. You now have a couple groupings of items you’ve placed into the list (you do so with the same star icon in the URL bar) that are broken up into ‘Unread’ and ‘Pages You’ve Read’ sections. If you click on an unread link, it automatically moves to the ‘Pages You’ve Read’ section. The checkmark icon – for now – moves your items between the two lists, though we’re confident this icon will change depending on the list you are looking at in the future. The checkmark may remain to move your items from unread to read, but there will likely be a different icon to mark it as unread again.
Apart from this, there is also a small ‘X’ next to each entry for removal when you are ready to be done with a particular item. It’s a simple system that could turn into a useful feature down the road, I suppose. While bookmarks can basically pull off this task, the ability to mark things as read or unread in a list is key to making a reading list that is dynamic enough not to just feel like another bookmarks folder.
In the event that anyone from Google is reading, the ability to automatically download items in the Reading List for offline viewing would be pretty awesome and the ability to sync this folder in some way to the excellent Google Collections would also be a very welcome, very useful addition. We’ll be keeping a close eye on this as the styling pieces come into focus and the new Chrome Reading List gets closer to the Stable Channel for users to try out.