Bookmarks are a staple of browsing the web, but they haven’t changed all that much in over a decade. Using them requires a system of organization and a commitment to keep things from growing cluttered. To complicate matters further, some items don’t fit neatly in a particular folder, and others are things you simply want to remember to read later. For that last group, fortunately things have greatly improved over the past few years. There are several services available that will not only store pages, they will reduce them down to just text for easy reading. Here are four ways to do so using an Android device.
Pocket, formerly known as Read It Later, stores web links in a single place. Items are displayed as large thumbnails by default, though users can switch to a list view as well. The app opens pages up as articles, stripping out ads but leaving in photos and other images. For the pages that don’t open properly, there’s the ability to switch back to a web view without leaving Pocket. Of the apps on this page, this one provides the most colorful UI. You can also access items saved to Pocket on your computer, making it a very useful solution for people who hop around between devices regularly. That last feature is a benefit that both of the next two services also deliver.
Readability looks a bit more subdued than Pocket. Rather than thumbnails, saved items are arranged into a list. As a result, navigating the app is a very smooth experience, as the article list page doesn’t look all that different from the article view itself. The feature set is very similar to Pocket. Users can mark certain pages as favorites and choose to either archive or delete the ones that they have read.
Instapaper differs from Pocket and Readability in that it costs money to use. Not only does the app come with an upfront fee of $2.99, it requires a monthly subscription. That aside, the app contains many of the same features mentioned above. It actually looks like a cross between Pocket and Readability, offering a UI that’s crisp and flat like Pocket but text-centric like Readability. Users can like, archive, or delete stories that they’ve sent to the service.
One feature worth highlighting is the ability to highlight text and save just these snippets for later reading. This can be especially useful for those times when you don’t want to read an entire article or just want to return back to where you left off (though I should mention that all of these apps remember your location as you switch around between saved stories). The app also offers a few more background colors and text options than some of the others on this list.
4. Firefox for Android
Firefox for Android is the oddball item on this list. It’s not a service that syncs to an app on your Android device. Instead, the mobile version of this web browser offers the ability to save any page for later reading. It addition, it strips these stories of the ads and images, allowing for distraction-free reading. If Firefox is your browser of choice, this may just be the practical solution you need that, unlike the others, doesn’t require you to create an account somewhere.
The landscape in this area is changing rapidly. We last visited this topic two years ago, and already things look radically different. Not only that, the field doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. Google is making changes to Chrome’s bookmarking system, which could provide just the shot in the arm the feature needs.
If you have any favorite apps or methods for saving things to read later on an Android device, feel free to share them with us below!