This is Facebook’s upcoming Reader feature


With so much great content being posted online on a daily basis and so little precious time to spare (talk about information overload), we as a technological society have grown dependent on various apps to scrap news articles and store them in pure text form for later reading. And boy are these services plentiful!

Not only do you get clutter-free content, but also can pull your saved articles from the cloud whenever and wherever a few minutes need killing – all in one app and without having to manage and bookmark the URLs.

I used to be a big believer in Marco Arment’s Instapaper read-later app for the iPhone and iPad ($3.99 on the App Store). However, Marco’s lack of vision, slow pace of development and just his general attitude on Twitter prompted me to make a switch to Pocket (formerly Read It Later) months ago.

Honestly, I never looked back since. Pocket comes free and provides tons of capabilities packaged into such a clean and elegant reading experience that’s consistent and available across my iPhones, iPads and and Macs.

These services also cut down on time-sucks that are social networks because people spend less time actually reading news articles on Facebook and increasingly save the stories to Instapapers and Pockets of this world. Zuck & Co. have taken notice of the trend and have been testing a read-later Facebook feature for months, a new rumor has it…

Mike Isaac shared the top-right screenshot in his AllThingsD post, writing that the social networking giant is testing a feature that would allow users to save links shared inside Facebook to a list for later reading.

“The functionality is quite similar to the popular apps Pocket and Instapaper,” Isaac’s post notes.

The feature, which was pointed out to AllThingsD by the technology blog MyTechSkool, comes in the form of a small iBook-like bookmark button attached to stories shared in the News Feed. Click the button, and the link will be set aside in a “saved” menu inside a user’s Facebook apps menu.

A Facebook spokesperson refused to comment on the story, issuing its standard boilerplate saying “We’re constantly testing new features, but we have nothing further to share at this time”.

Darrell Etherington of TechCrunch has more on the implementation:

When you see a link shared by your network in your newsfeed, you can click a small bookmark icon on the right side to save it to a list of saved links available from your apps menu. The feature is currently visible only to a small selection of Facebook users, as is common when the company rolls out new features.

Whether or not it gains wider release is up in the air, and while some features Facebook tests in this way do make it to the general population, many others do not.

The feature lacks offline access at the moment, Darrell noted.

Facebook has been making strides in this direction for some time now.

In March, Facebook unveiled a redesigned News Feed focused on photos. The move represented an effort to boost engagement and surface more of relevant content that Facebook’s users might have otherwise missed.

“We want to give everyone in the world the best personalized newspaper in the world,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said introducing the new News Feed.

Likening the revamped News Feed to a personalized newspaper drew ridicule from some pundits, but Zuck could easily have the last laugh – according to a June report by The Wall Street Journal, Facebook’s been working on its own newsreader-like feature, internally called Reader, in a bid to become a destination for both media content and discovery.

new facebook news feed

Isaac claims the internal screenie he shared represents the second iteration of a Reader feature, “though earlier efforts were less visible and not as easy to understand and use”.

I’m still trying to get my head around the idea of consuming news entirely on Facebook.

I mean, folks typically click on news article links shared on Twitter and Facebook, which opens the story in a new browser tab. I know some big media newspapers and tech sites now have their Facebook Timeline apps, but I just don’t see any benefit in “social reading”.

If I’m interested in a story, I’ll click your link and read the article in its original form and eventually comment on it. I just don’t see myself using Facebook Reader instead of Pocket or Instapaper.


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