Thanks to Chrome’s offline apps, you don’t need to rely on the Internet to catch up on your e-reading.
Reading on a digital device is a convenience that we take for granted. For quite some time, it was dependent on having an active Internet connection. But not any more. With an increasing number of ways to take content offline, unreliable data connections are less bothersome, especially when it comes to activities like reading.
If you’re a Chrome user, perhaps looking to take your Chromebook travelling, you have various options to save your reading material for offline use. Here are some of the top ones.
Amazon has made it easy to access Kindle ebooks from a variety of devices and operating systems. But you don’t really need a desktop app to read your Kindle ebooks. You can do that right from your browser by navigating to read.amazon.com and logging into your Amazon account. That is Kindle’s cloud reader for you.
The reader comes with a straightforward interface where you can browse your entire Kindle collection. Sample chapters are not included in the cloud reader library. If you right-click on any ebook, you can see two options, Open Book and Download & Pin Book. The second option appears grayed out, and that’s where the offline reading part comes in. To enable that second option and save books to read when you’re offline, install the Kindle Chrome app by Amazon.
Alternatively, you can click on the Enable Offline prompt that appears every time you launch the cloud reader only if you have not installed the app. This brings up the option to add the Chrome app right away. In my case, that has not always worked as expected. If it does not work for you either, install the app from the Chrome Web Store. To learn more about the features of the app, read Ryan’s in-depth review of it.
The popular Pocket service has an official Chrome app as well as an extension. The app links to your Pocket account, while the extension offers a one-click method to save a Web page to your account. You don’t have to worry about saving content for offline use. Pocket automatically makes all content in your account accessible without an Internet connection.
I have noticed that Pocket’s Chrome app takes some time to sync with your account, so if you go offline before the sync, the latest content might not be available through the app. It’s a good idea to ensure that your Pocket list is up to date before disconnecting from the Internet. The Chrome app looks and behaves the same way as the Pocket Web counterpart. But when you’re offline, only a few basic functions such as reading and archiving work.
Readium is an easy-to-use app to read and manage ePubs. Import ePubs from the Web or upload them from your computer to read them in Readium’s clean and no-nonsense interface.
As with any decent e-reader, there are settings to optimize the reader interface as you see fit. Change font sizes and margins, take your pick from a handful of themes, and choose between one-page and two-page displays. The option to delete an ebook is accessible only via the list view (and not the thumbnail view) in the library, which is why it might to hard to find initially. Readium has just enough settings to ensure that you have a nice reading experience without getting lost in the app’s features.
Readium’s page on the Chrome Web Store does not mention offline support, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that the app worked even when I was not connected to the Internet. To be doubly sure, I tested Readium on multiple devices, and it was accessible offline without a glitch.
On a side note, you can go ahead and uninstall your desktop pdf software, because Chrome is capable of handling pdfs also. What’s more, it’s programmed to do this by default, which means you don’t need to install a separate app for it.
By using the Google Play Books app you can read books (free and paid) downloaded from the Play Store as well as those uploaded from your computer.
To save books for offline reading, ensure that you’re connected to the Internet, and access your Google Play Books library through the installed app. When you hover over the thumbnail of each ebook, a tiny dialog box pops up, which contains a checkbox marked Make Available Offline. Check that box to download that particular ebook for offline reading. It appears that this option is available only when you access the library through the installed app, and only for ePubs and Play Store books.
If your RSS feed or online reading list appears daunting to get through, break it down into digestible chunks by converting select articles into pdfs by installling PrintFriendly & PDF. There’s not much to it. After you install the Chrome extension, navigate to a Web page or article that you want to save as a pdf, and click on the extension icon where it rests next to the omni bar. In the dialog box that opens up, you have the option to remove images, scale the text size, and delete various sections of the page.
Once you have tweaked the page to your liking, click on PDF in the top bar. You’ll be presented with a link to download the pdf to your computer. In addition to exporting the page as a pdf, you can choose to print it or share it via email. Also, instead of installing the app, you can use PrintFriendly as a bookmarklet.
No Signal? No Problem.
What’s sorely missing from the Chrome Web Store is a handy offline RSS reader. MagicCube FeedStore was fairly popular, but as it relied on Google Reader, it is out of the running due to the demise of the latter. JellyReader is still a good feed reader bundled as a Chrome app, and hosted either through your Dropbox or Google Drive account. It also has offline support, but its lack of an import function is a dealbreaker.
Since we’re on the topic of reading without an active Internet connection, check out how to download a website for offline reading and how to turn your unread Feedly items into an eBook.
As an Internet user, you’re likely to have the habit of collecting things to read and not returning to read them. This is because when you’re online there’s some other interesting thing right around the corner, waiting to catch your eye. With offline reading apps, it becomes easier to use Internet downtime to make inroads into your reading list. Make use of them!
Do you read a lot offline? Which apps do you use for it? We’d love to know in the comments.
Image Credits: stack of magazines Via Shutterstock