Clean, Fast & Readable: Lightweight Versions Of Popular News Sites
Read the news without using up all of your bandwidth. A wide variety of sites offer mobile or text-only versions that work on any computer, but they’re occasionally buried and hard to find on the modern web.
There are more than a few reasons to want to know where these sites are, however. Maybe you don’t like clutter? Maybe you’re one of the millions still using dial-up, and want a low-bandwidth way to read news? Maybe you regularly tether your computer to your smartphone, but don’t have an unlimited data plan? Maybe you like to read the news on your e-reader and want clean sites for doing so? Or maybe you want a list of quick-to-load news sources in case a disaster slows down your Internet connection just when you need it most.
Whatever your reason, find a list of links to mobile news sites that work on any computer below, without the need for tricks like user agent switchers.
To begin: Google Reader’s mobile site.
This is perhaps the most important URL to know, because with it you can make any site into a mobile one. Here it is:
The mobile version of Google Reader will even convert non-mobile versions of sites linked to into mobile pages, meaning it’s the best friend of anyone looking to save on bandwidth and screen real estate.
Not a Google Reader user? There’s a lightweight version of Google News, but it sadly links to full-version sites on most computers. Here it is:
It’s a quick way to see which stories are big right now.
American News Sources
Let’s start our American list with some newspapers and wire services. Here are the main major papers I could find desktop-friendly mobile versions for:
- The Christian Science Monitor Text-Only Edition. Beautifully formated for reading; no images at all.
- Mobile version of USA Today. Smartphone-esque; images might look stretched in desktop browser.
- . Okay-looking interface; articles behind paywall.
- Mobile version of the Chicago Tribune. Doesn’t look bad.
- Mobile site of Reuters [No longer available]. All the latest articles from the wire service, works great on desktop.
- Mobile site for Bloomberg [Broken URL Removed], a great source for business news. Looks great on the desktop.
- Mobile version of The Onion. By far America’s most accurate newspaper, and the mobile site ain’t bad either.
On to the medium of the future: radio! Just a few here that I could find:
- NPR offers two services: Thin.NPR.org, which offers no images, no audio and no formatting. Or, if you prefer, there’s m.NPR.org, which functions like a smartphone app but works quite well.
- Democracy Now’s mobile site is another option, though it can be confusing.
- Voice of America’s mobile site. The official external radio station of the US government.
Why watch TV when you can read it? Don’t over-think that sentence.
- NBC News mobile site. Works well. Still MSN-branded; might disappear soon.
- Fox News mobile site. All headlines and sections. Articles are split into pieces.
- CBS mobile version. Extremely thin interface is annoying; articles split.
- ABC mobile version. Smartphonesque interface; large images that actually look quite good.
- You can’t talk about global news sources without mentioning the BBC. It offers two mobile versions: a beautiful, simple site (pictured above) that I think should replace the default one and a older looking mobile site. Decide which you prefer for yourself.
- Mobile version of The Economist (UK/International). Limited access to stories, but their “This Week” sections are always worth reading.
- CBC’s mobile site (Canada). Notably lets you pick whether you images or not. Text-only version works great, though font is quite small.
- The Toronto Star’s mobile site (Canada). Smartphonesque interface looks good on the desktop.
- The National Post’s mobile site (Canada).
- AFP’s Mobile site. This is a French wire service. Site is annoyingly thin on desktop browsers, but it works.
- Times of India’s mobile site. Quick access to top Indian headlines, works great on desktop.
- Wunderground Mobile. Fastest way to get an extensive overview of the weather anywhere.
- Weather Channel Mobile site. USA only.
- National Weather Service Mobile site. USA only.
Not exactly news sites, but these links can also save you some bandwidth and/or screen space.
Still not enough? [NO LONGER WORKS] TidyRead.com can make a mobile version out of any site. I feel obligated to mention them, and not only because they feature MakeUseOf on their home page – it’s a magic way to make any site lightweight.
If a news site you like is excluded, it’s probably because of one of four reasons:
- I couldn’t find a mobile version that works on a desktop browser,
- I didn’t know a particular news service existed,
- It’s not in English, or
- I’m an evil liberal/conservative/communist/corporatist/Canadian/American trying to prevent people from accessing particular news sources.
Having said that, please: if you know of a mobile news site that works on desktop browsers share it below. Let’s make this the ultimate list of such sites together.
One final note: many sites stop desktop users from viewing the mobile version of their site. There’s a way around that, though: changing your user agents and tricking those sites into thinking you’re on a mobile device. We’ve written up User Agent Switcher. Check it out: