Google is experimenting with packing Chrome’s new Side Panel section with as many features as possible. First, it housed your Bookmarks and Reading List. Then, it went on to contain Google Lens results. Now, it’s picking up a new trick – Reader Mode.
Reader Mode is already available in Chrome Stable via a developer flag of the same name. However, enabling it causes the entire webpage to enter into a stripped-down, simplified reading experience. A new Chromium Repository commit that was first discovered by Leopeva64 on Twitter reveals that the company is going to shift this Reader Mode into the right-hand Side Panel for easy reading.
Reader Mode] Introduce Reader Mode view in the Side Panel behind a flag.
Reader Mode shows users a simplified version of web pages, with all formatting and non-essential content removed.
This CL introduces an end-to-end prototype of Reader Mode behind the kReaderModeSidePanel flag. Reader Mode lives as a new tab in Side Panel, along with Reading List and Bookmarks.Chromium Repository
According to the commit description, upon clicking the Reader Mode icon from the top-right of the browser’s Omnibox (it appears on pages with articles or readable content) the page will appear in the side panel via a new “web app” using Polymer. Whether or not this will be split off in the future as its own web app is unclear, but I find it interesting that they use that terminology.
Anyways, at this time, Leopeva64 seems to think that you’ll be able to read an article in the right panel while utilizing the main Chrome window to browse other websites, and I hope that’s the case. It would be very odd to be forced to stay on the page you’re shoving into the side panel if they have the same exact content, so the logic follows that the purpose of this being moved to the right is to free up your time and space as a user.
Enabling the Reader Mode flag in Chrome currently does not move articles to the side panel, but the updated feature tweak will appear behind “a flag”, and what better flag to integrate this into than the one that already exists for Reader Mode, right? Undoubtedly, many users will feel that the Side Panel, which was originally meant to take a load of complexity off of the rest of the browser, is becoming bloated already, and it’s not even fully released yet.
Personally, my only gripe is that while it did get a new redesign recently, it’s still not able to be resized, and it’s difficult to make heads or tales of article names in Reading List as a result of them being cut off after just a handful of characters. Let me know in the comments if you even use Side Panel or if you think it’s too crowded for your taste.