a post on my Publishing 2020 blog about an app I'd like to buy for my Kindle. Here's how I described the problem last June:
How many emails like this do you get each week?: "You need to read this article over on so-and-so.com. I just read it and thought it was terrific/funny/relevant/etc." I get these all the time. Sometimes I click the link and read the first sentence or two. If it's good and I don't have time to read it all now I'll leave that browser tab open and hope I don't forget about it, but I often do. If the article looks really good and I don't want to miss it I might even print it out and read it later. None of these approaches are very effective though, especially when I also have a $360 Kindle at my disposal.
OK, if you're a glutton for punishment you'll try to access all those articles on your Kindle via Whispernet. Good luck with that. Even if you manage to get the page loaded you'll find the formatting and readability is awful in most cases. And what if you're out of Whispernet range, say, on a plane?
Someone needs to write a desktop application that lets me grab a url and drag it to my Kindle, which is connected to my Mac via USB. The app has to do more than just drag the web page to the Kindle though; it needs to convert the contents of that page to mobi format so that it looks nice and clean on the Kindle display.
Unfortunately, Amazon never opened their platform to third-party apps so nobody ever had a chance to create this type of service. Apple's model, on the other hand, encourages third-party app extensions and I recently found the answer to my problem.
The app is called Offline Pages (iTunes link) and hands-down it's the greatest thing I've downloaded to my iPad. Oh, and get this: The app is totally free! (Somebody really ought to tell the developer they could easily charge five bucks for it. Heck, I'd consider it a bargain at $10!)
The app works just like you expect it to. You can browse the web within the app and save any page you want for later reading. Even better: In a few short steps you can add a bookmark to Safari on your iPad and quickly save the pages through that browser instead. Best of all: You can create a bookmarklet in your Mac/Windows browser to save the pages that way. So if I see something cool while on my Mac, I click the bookmarklet button I installed and the next time I sync my iPad the page shows up in the app. Outstanding!
I've got two recommendations for future enhancements. First of all, let me say whether I just want to save this particular page or if I also want to save all the pages linked from it. There's nothing worse than thinking you've saved an article and it was split into multiple web pages, so you only got the first piece. For that matter, why not build the logic in to know when there's a "next page" or similar link the app should grab it too? Second, rather than forcing me to manually sync with iTunes to move pages from my Mac to my iPad, why not do it wirelessly, either through wifi or Bluetooth?
Implement these additional features and you've got a spectacular app. Either way, this one is already a must-have for anyone who sometimes finds themselves outside a hotspot...and who doesn't fall into that category?!