We do a great deal of reading from our mobile devices these days, but there are still a good number of websites that don’t play along nicely with smaller screens. Not only that, sometimes there are just more articles vying for our attention than we have time to read right away. Firefox for Android has a built-in reader mode that address both of these issues. It strips articles down to just their text, and it can save a reading list filled with the stories you want to get to later. The feature is spiffy enough that it could possibly replace the need for alternative apps such as Instapaper, Pocket, and Readability for a number of Firefox users. The feature is easy to overlook, so here’s a look at how it works.
Let’s Get Started
A tiny book icon appears in the URL bar at the top of a webpage whenever it’s possible to switch to Firefox for Android’s Reader Mode. Usually if the icon isn’t there, it’s because the page hasn’t fully loaded yet. Once the loading bar goes away, the icon should appear.
Clicking that icon will instantly transition the webpage over into Reader Mode, where the text should be easier to read. By default, Firefox will automatically pick whether to display the text in black or white depending on your environment. If you don’t like its choice, don’t worry; you will have the ability to change it later.
There are four items listed along the bottom of the page. Clicking on the “Aa” icon brings up a set of options. It’s here where users can change the font style, the size of text, and what color to use for the background. If it’s the middle of the day, you may just want to stick with black words on a white page, but the option to place white text on a black page is there for those times when you’re reading late at night.
The little book icon in the bottom left adds the webpage you’re currently reading to your reading list. You can then navigate away from the piece and pull up other sites. After you’ve built up a number of stories to get back to, you can hit the second icon to pull up the reading list.
You can return to the reading list at anytime from the new tab page. Just swipe from the right twice, as it should be the third available page.
This list may not come with the attractive UI offered by Pocket or features the recommendations found in Instapaper, but it does effectively replicate the core functionality. Even more appealingly, it does this without requiring users to create a new account or keep up with another service. Firefox may not offer all the bells and whistles, but it gets the job done. If you just want to make webpages more readable and easier to keep up with while on the go, Reader Mode is more than worth a look, especially if Firefox is already your mobile browser of choice.