Google Chrome will automatically download news articles for offline reading [Updated]

There has been a big push to improve internet access and make it easier to view online content in NBU markets (Next Billion Users) in recent years. Google’s latest Chrome feature also has this in mind, as it will download relevant news articles automatically while connected to WiFi so the user can view them later when only a less reliable data connection or none at all is available.

Chrome’s data saver has been great for users in developing countries, and this new addition will help to save further precious bytes assuming the content it decides to download is actually relevant. You could already save Chrome pages for offline viewing and they would be stored in the Downloads section of the app. The auto-downloaded pages will appear in the same place (see below).

That screenshot is from Canary, the least stable of the Chrome builds but the only one I’ve currently got the functionality on. It should only be a matter of time before this reaches the Dev, Beta, and Stable channels. Artem also got the “View offline in Chrome Canary” notification, similar to that shown in the top image on the left, but I’m yet to see it myself.

Content will only be downloaded when free, unmetered WiFi is available, and you have to be signed into Chrome so it can use your browsing history for recommendations. According to Google India’s blog post, it will be available in “India, along with more than 100 countries including Nigeria, Indonesia, and Brazil,” confirming the feature’s focus on emerging markets.

Flags to control the settings

As pointed out in the comments, there are a couple of flags that seem to control this new auto-download feature:

  • offline-pages-prefetching likely turns the setting on and off.
  • offline-pages-prefetching-ui would appear to decide whether or not these articles are shown in the downloads section and toggles the previously mentioned notification.

I’ve turned both on in Stable Chrome, so we’ll see if that forces the feature to start working. Nothing yet, but I’ll update again when I know more.

Google Chrome will automatically download articles you haven’t asked for yet

Chrome for Android will download the articles when you’re connected to Wi-Fi so you can read them offline.

Want to browse the news but don’t have connection to the internet? Google Chrome is getting a new feature for Android that automatically downloads articles when you’re connected to Wi-Fi for you to read offline — even if you haven’t asked for them.

Google announced the feature on the Google India blog Thursday. It says that the feature is available in India, Brazil, Nigeria and over 100 other countries. If the feature is available in your region, you can get it by updating to the latest version of Google Chrome for Android. No word yet on when it’ll come to other countries like the US or UK.

The feature automatically downloads articles it thinks you’ll want based on the most popular content in your location. Or, if you’re signed into your Google Account, Chrome will use your browsing history to download relevant stories. That can be seen as either pretty helpful or a little creepy depending on your opinion.

Chrome for Android already lets you manually download articles for offline viewing, but this new feature does it automatically.

Google didn’t say how long Chrome will store these articles or how many it’ll download at a time — which may be a concern in case you’re low on phone storage.

Google Chrome offers you a new way to shame slow websites

The Web Vitals Chrome extension is designed to offer a simple score so developers can set priorities.

Google on Tuesday released a Chrome extension called Core Web Vitals that gives you a direct measurement for lodging complaints about slow websites. The tool accompanies a new push to get developers to focus on speed by measuring what Google’s Chrome team deems a useful collection of important data.

For more than a decade, Google has pushed for a faster web. Indeed, that was part of the reason for launching its Chrome browser more than a decade ago. Faster websites place better in Google search results, a powerful incentive. But a faster web is also a more vigorous foundation for Google’s search business.

There are already ways to test website speed, including the WebPagetest tool originally run by AOL. Google’s new Web Vitals effort tries to coalesce a number of potentially confusing statistics into a simpler score that’s useful for web developers trying to set priorities.

“Google has provided a number of tools over the years (Lighthouse, Chrome DevTools, PageSpeed Insights, Search Console’s Speed Report) to measure and report on performance. Some developers are experts at using these tools, while others have found the abundance of both tools and metrics challenging to keep up with,” Google’s Web Vitals site says. “Site owners should not have to be performance gurus in order to understand the quality of experience they are delivering to their users.”

There’s a big gap between producing a web performance score and getting a website to actually speed up. But such efforts can provoke results. Netflix has long used a speed test site to rate internet service providers, and ISPs got cranky about it as net neutrality became a political issue.

Because the Web Vitals extension only works on Chrome running on personal computers, Google recommends developers use its Lighthouse tool when trying to assess performance on mobile devices.

How to Download a Web Page or Article to Read Offline

Whether you’re underground between subway stops, caught in a dead zone, or your internet is out, the most reliable way to catch up on your digital reading is to make sure it’s downloaded and accessible offline.

Information overload is real. You don’t always have time to read a 5,000-word feature or juicy interview when it pops up on your Twitter feed, but a number of services let you save it for later—even if you’re without an internet connection.

Whether you’re underground between subway stops, caught in a dead zone, or your internet is out, the most reliable way to catch up on your digital reading is to make sure it’s downloaded and accessible offline.

Many apps and browsers support offline reading, no matter your device. Here’s how to get started.

Desktop File Download

On the desktop, the easiest way to download a web page is to save it to your computer. In Chrome, open the hamburger menu () and select More Tools > Save page as. For Firefox, open the same menu and choose “Save Page As.” You can also right-click and select “Save as” or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + S on a PC. On Safari, go to File > Save as or File > Export as PDF. The keyboard shortcut for a Mac is Command + S.

Chrome can save the complete web page, including text and media assets, or just the HTML text. Firefox, meanwhile, will give you a choice between the complete package, an HTML file, or a simple text file. On Safari, you can pick between Web Archive (all text and media assets) or Page Source (source text only). Download the file you prefer and read the page at any time, even if you have no internet connection.

Chrome Android App

When using Chrome on an Android device, save a webpage for offline reading by opening the three-dot menu icon () and tapping the download icon up top, which will download a version of the page for offline viewing. View any recent downloads by selecting the menu icon again and tapping Downloads.

Firefox Android App

In the Firefox Android app, open the browser’s main menu and select Page > Save as PDF to download the file to your device. When you’re offline and need to access the PDF, open the main menu again, select Tools > Download, and choose the one you want to read.

Add to Safari Reading List

When browsing the web using Safari on macOS or iOS, you can save web pages to your Reading List. By default, Reading List won’t automatically make saved items available offline, but you can change that on Mac by selecting Safari > Preferences > Advanced and checking the box next to “Save articles for offline reading automatically.” On iOS, head to Settings > Safari >Automatically Save Offline and toggle it to on.

Add articles to your Reading List on any Apple device by selecting the Share pane and clicking “Add to Reading List.” To view the articles you’ve saved, tap the sidebar icon on a Mac (or the book icon on mobile) and click on the glasses icon.

Add to Chrome Reading List (iOS)

In the iOS Chrome app, you can save an article one of two ways. Either tap the share pane and select “Read Later,” or open the browser’s menu () and choose “Read Later.” The article you’re viewing will be saved to your Reading List. From there, open the Chrome menu again and select “Reading List.” Long-press a saved item until a menu pops up, then tap “View Offline Version in New Tab” and you’re ready to read offline.

Add to Firefox Reading List (iOS)

In Firefox, open the three-dot menu () in the search bar and select “Add to Reading List.” From there, navigate to the hamburger menu () > Your Library > Reading list. Select the article you want to open and it will be made available to you offline automatically.

Pocket

Pocket lets you save online articles for later, and sync them between your devices—Mac, PC, iOS and Android. It was acquired by Mozilla in 2017, so Pocket is now built into Firefox, but there are also extensions for Chrome, Safari, and Edge.

Enable Firefox Offline Mode (Desktop)

As you go about your business on the web, your browsing history is preserved in a cache. Firefox lets you tap into the cache for offline reading. Open the hamburger menu () and select More > Work Offline. This cuts off the browser’s internet connection, but allows you to access recently viewed pages. Just start typing the site you want in the search bar or navigate to the hamburger menu and select Library > History for a list of recent sites. It’s not a perfect solution, but it can help you out in a bind.

Third-Party Options

Plenty of other third-party products also do the trick, including browser extensions, free utility software, and reading apps. The Save Page WE extension for Chrome and Firefox saves web pages to your computer with a single click; adjust the settings to determine how much information is saved.

For more high-powered solutions, turn to the utility software HTTrack (for Windows, Linux, and Android) or SiteSucker (for macOS and iOS). These programs can download entire website directories from a URL, letting you navigate an entire site while offline.