Medium’s “Save to Medium” bookmarking feature is now live, letting you save articles from across the web to a single interface you can read whenever you want, roughly two weeks after app sleuth Jane Manchun Wong discovered the experimental Pocket- and Instapaper-like feature earlier this month. But in my brief testing this morning, it feels more limited than those dedicated read-it-later services, and frankly, doesn’t seem that useful to me at all.
Starting off on a practical note, you can only save articles using a Chrome extension or the latest versions of the iOS and Android apps for now. If you want to save articles while using Safari, Firefox, or other browsers, you’ll have to wait until Medium adds browser extensions for them “soon.”
More importantly, actually reading my saved articles in the iOS app isn’t a compelling experience.
It worked well for some of Medium’s own posts — which makes sense, since you’ve already been able to bookmark those in the app for years. I saved a Learning by Shipping blog, and when I opened it in the app in the read later mode, it looked like, well, a Medium post. I was able to change the text size, share the article, and turn on a dark mode, similar to other readers. (And because it’s a Medium post, yes, I could add claps.)
But when I saved Dieter’s Apple Watch Series 5 review, it simply opened up in a browser window within the app. Which, according to Medium’s blog post, is how all third-party websites will display unless they’ve got a Medium licensing deal. When I opened this New York Times story, Medium’s mobile browser even showed the NYT’s popup that asks you to create an account to read more articles.
It’s good to see that Medium is letting the Times make money by respecting its paywalls (it let me open two stories, then blocked me on the third), but it’s not a streamlined reading experience.
Oddly, even a Medium-owned OneZero story didn’t open in a dedicated reader mode — it showed up just as if I had navigated to the article on the mobile web, including Medium’s prompt to log in (which, like with the NYT article, I could tap out of).
When Wong originally spotted an early version of “Save to Medium” in testing, she found that the app was scraping entire articles, including those from paywalled publications, and replicating them onto its own platform so that readers could read the article without hitting the paywall. But Medium told The Verge earlier this month that any final product wouldn’t do that, and that appears to be the case here.
Still, if you’re already a heavy Medium app user who wants to add additional articles from around the web to your reading list, or you’re looking for an easy way to bookmark some Medium articles for your commute home, this might work. Medium says it wants your feedback, too.