The Chrome browser and Chromebooks are getting a clever new feature in the form of Reading Mode, Google revealed at BETT.
The Education Tech Show is currently taking place in London, and Google has revealed plans for this reading mode to come to ChromeOS (meaning Chromebooks) in addition to the Chrome browser.
The idea of reading mode is for a separate panel to appear on the side of a web page in the browser window, allowing that page to be displayed in a cleaner format and providing greater legibility for simply reading the content.
In short, it removes the clutter on a webpage, so you can wave goodbye to distracting images, videos, icons, and buttons to focus solely on reading the actual text.
As 9 to 5 Google notes, Reading Mode is heading inwards sometime later this year for Chrome, and will debut on Chromebooks with the release of ChromeOS 114.
Analysis: Closer to the Edge
This is a welcome option for both ChromeOS and Chrome more broadly, where making web content accessible should be a good thing — even if reading mode took a long time to access (which it certainly did).
Decluttering to help focus on the primary written content of a webpage will be useful in a range of scenarios, one of which is obviously in the classroom for those who live with learning differences such as dyslexia and ADHD (which Google points out is one of every five children in the United States).
The reading mode will come with many customization options so that the users can adjust it according to their own needs as well. This will include the ability to change the font, make the size larger if needed, as well as adjust items such as character and line spacing, or the background color. For example, if you want a dark background instead of white, there is a menu option to make that happen.
If this functionality sounds familiar, it’s because Google is playing catch-up in this case, and you’ve probably already played with this kind of streamlined browsing experience in Microsoft Edge (or other browsers).
The Edge browser has an immersive reader feature that has a lot of similar capabilities to the ones announced by Google here (and more besides), and it was introduced about three years ago.
Immersive Reader can be launched by clicking the appropriate icon at the far right of the URL bar. (Although it may not be supported with every webpage, you can still pull content off the page by selecting the text and using the right-click context menu to invoke Immersive Reader).
The big difference between both Google and Microsoft is that Edge switches the webpage to easy-to-read mode, while Chrome pops up the reading mode version in a panel next to the still-displayed (side-by-side) webpage. We’re not quite sure why Google took this approach, but as mentioned, you can expand the Reading Mode panel to be wider.