Use Safari Reader Mode for Improved Mobile Web Browsing & Reading on iPhone
Safari Reader mode simplifies the appearance of web pages by attempting to render only a pages primary article text into a minimalistic focused view. This can be helpful when reading much of whats found on the web on any iOS device, but it’s particularly useful on the iPhone since many websites don’t have an optimized mobile reading experience appropriate for small screens. Not only does it make reading easier on the eyes by boosting the font size and legibility of text found on the page, but it also can turn a non-mobile version of a website into a completely tolerable mobile version, offering significant improvements to the web reading experience in iOS.
Entering into Reader Mode of Safari in iOS
The Reader feature in Safari is easy to use, though like many other things in modern incarnations of iOS, it’s not necessarily the most obvious thing in the world:
- Open Safari and browse to any web page as usual, this very page will work as suitable example, just be sure the various navigation buttons and elements are visible to be able to access the Reader button
- Tap on the little four-lined button in the upper left corner (best visualized, as shown below) to enter into Reader mode of Safari
Reader Mode takes over immediately, applying it’s own intelligent stylesheet to whatever webpage is active, stripping out most things to focus primarily on the text and in-article images. As a general rule, Reader works best on article pages, and not on home pages of websites.
Here’s an example of using Safari’s Reader feature on a webpage that isn’t completely optimized well for the mobile reading experience of an iPhone screen, notice the font size before is really small and challenging to read, whereas the font and image becomes the primary focus, with the text size increasing dramatically and the webpage itself becomes more centered around the article (and the tasty looking food image):
Speaking of page text, if you want to increase the text size of webpages rendered within Safari Reader Mode, you’ll need to turn to the broader iOS system setting of adjusting font size. Also, note the Reader font is impacted by using bold text in iOS, so if you use that feature you’ll see the fonts rendered in Reader as bolded as well. That’s a recent change that arrived in iOS 7, as past versions of iOS allowed users to manually adjust the font size through the Reader function itself without having to make other usability adjustments, a nice feature that we hope will return to future versions of Safari and upcoming versions of the Reader function, perhaps in iOS 8 or otherwise.
The Reader function even works on mobile-optimized sites (like OSXDaily.com), though the difference is much less obvious since a well optimized mobile experience will emphasize the webpage text and images anyway. Here’s what it may look like though:
Of course, another potential perk to using Safari Reader Mode is that it will also strip down unnecessary page content, further adding to a simplified mobile reading experience, as the feature removes stylizing, unassociated images, custom fonts, ads, social sharing buttons, and much else that can otherwise just distract from a webpage. Those changes can make Reader a particularly nice feature to use if you’re simply wanting to focus on an article and want to tone down some of the surrounding stuff on the web. These latter side effects also may be what makes it most usable on something like an iPad (or even a Mac, where the feature exists too), but generally speaking the experience is best on smaller screened devices like the iPhone and iPod touch.