If you haven’t heard of Google’s quite-excellent Collections, I can’t fault you. It is – like many Google services – hiding in plain sight and not really given enough attention. The concept is simple enough and basically becomes bookmarks on steroids, letting users save content from Google searches via the Google app on mobile devices in a very Pocket-esque way. Speaking of Pocket, around Chrome Unboxed, we leverage Pocket in place of Google Spaces that was unceremoniously retired a few years ago as a centralized place to drop content of interest for us to pull up later.
As a matter of fact, late last night as I saw the article that alerted me of this upcoming change, I immediately shared it to Pocket before falling asleep to make sure I didn’t misplace it in the morning. Pocket is great for that and for keeping longer articles queued up, ready to read when I actually have time to consume them. Google Collections follows in a similar pattern and allow users to save articles for later and easily share those collections with others. For us, having a ‘Chrome Unboxed’ collection would be perfect for saving bits of content to share seamlessly between everyone on the team save for one, glaring flaw: you can’t add new content to collections from Chrome right now.
As it currently stands, adding to a collection only happens via search in the Google app. While I do use Google’s app to search for things, it is most definitely not the only way I leverage search or consume content. Instead, many times I begin and end my searches right in Chrome and yet, there are no options right now to add web content to a collection. Nevermind the fact that Google even built a beautiful web app for managing said Collections over at google.com/collections. The whole thing feels like a perfect fit for the web and is simply missing the quick options to drop content in while browsing in Chrome.
‘Read Later’ is coming to Chrome
In a turn of events, Techdows has spotted a feature flag called ‘Read Later’ that is on the way to Chrome across the board and, if I’m not mistaken, will hopefully allow us to finally start sharing web content to our Google Collections via Chrome on any screen. They are finding the flag in Chrome 86 Canary and the description of the new feature looks promising:
Allow users to save tabs for later. Enables a new button and menu for
accessing tabs saved for later. – Mac, Windows, Linux, Chrome OS
It is clear that developers are bringing a ‘Read Later’ feature to Chrome across the board and I don’t think it is a coincidence that this type of functionality already exists in a service already offered from Google. It would only make sense for this ‘Read Later’ feature to be a part of the existing and excellent Collections functionality. I don’t want to give too much credit where it isn’t due, however, as Google has clearly shown the propensity to launch self-competing service in the past.
If this new feature does launch as some sort of stand-alone read later in Chrome feature, it will be worth very little to very few people. If, however, Google does what I’m expecting, here, we’ll soon have the ability to save web content to our Google Collections in the near future and finally begin to use this knock-out feature Google has made on a daily basis in a way that could end up supplanting our reliance on bookmarks as heavily. Collections are very powerful, very useful and, as I remarked when they launched, very likely to become a highly-used service once they arrive in all versions of Chrome. It looks like it won’t be long now.