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While other competing browsers have long had special modes that strip all extraneous content from the pages of articles so as to reduce distraction, Chrome has thus far only seen this option, commonly referred to as “Reader Mode,” appear as an experimental version. That’s even though the base Chromium browser has had an implementation of it available built-in for over a year now, and the Google Chrome team having had added an experimental toolbar icon for it to its mobile browser more than a year ago. It looks like the Chrome team might be close to a wide rollout, however.

Initially spotted by Ghacks, the canary and developer build of Chrome for Android seem to now be displaying a new prompt on some websites asking the user whether or not they want to “Make page mobile-friendly.” Tapping that replaces the page with a mobile-optimized, stripped down version of the same page which lacks elements like navigation menus and headers, and just leaves what Chrome believes is crucial to the page. There doesn’t appear to be any option to choose when this prompt appears (we have the flag enabled but couldn’t get the prompt to appear), and it seems to only appear on sites that haven’t been optimized for mobile. Google recently adjusted its search ranking algorithm to negatively impact websites which don’t have mobile versions when the user is searching Google from a mobile device.

There also seems to be appearance options available from inside Chrome’s menu when the experimental mode is enabled. They look like this:

chrome-appearance-options

 

If you want to try and get the mode working for yourself, first download Chrome Beta (available in Google Play) and visit chrome://flags#reader-mode-heuristics; toggle that flag to “Enabled” or one of the other options, like when the browser believes you’re looking at long-form content. What’s interesting is that when the special reading mode is enabled, a survey appears at the bottom asking the user to rate how well Chrome extracted the page’s content, which must partly explain why the option to enable the mode appears so infrequently. Google wouldn’t want to release the feature if it only extracts the right content 50% of the time. It’s still a bit surprising how long it’s taken to bring the feature to the stable, wide-release version of Chrome, however.

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