Medium’s offline reading experience must improve.
Flying 35,000 feet up in the air at approximately 850 kph in a narrow metal tube can be very intimidating for most of us. At least it is for me, having watched 19 seasons of Air Crash Investigations!
I still don’t know why I did that to myself, but oh well, it’s too late now.
At this point, I will just have to deal with my fear of flying.
After a few months of not flying, the fear came rushing back to me on my most recent flight from Toronto to Alberta. However, I was slightly more prepared this time around…
The night before my flight, I packed my iPad with 80+ Medium stories to give me company during my 3.5 grueling flight hours. It worked!
However, the experience revealed a number of glaring issues with Medium’s limited offline functionality.
It wasn’t only up in the air that the lack of these features affected my reading experience. Even when camping or just chilling in my hotel room without WiFi, the limited experience you get on Medium when offline was really frustrating.
That got me thinking:
What can Medium do to become a perfect travel companion?
A thousand ideas came rushing in. I will walk you through a few of those that I believe can be absolutely game-changing for Medium readers.
Automatic Smart Downloads
The night before my flight, I had to manually download all the reading lists for offline reading.
What if I forgot? I wouldn’t have anything to read. Now, that would be frustrating.
That’s where “automatic smart downloads” can come to the rescue of folks who are traveling. YouTube has this feature, and it works like a charm.
Medium knows very well the type of content I enjoy reading, as evidenced by its “For you” section which does a scarily good job showing me stories I am tempted to binge on.
What Medium can do is, take a small subset (ideally configurable) of these stories, and automatically download them for offline reading.
Now, even if I forget to intentionally download before hopping on my flight, I still have a curated offline list ready to go.
Sync Downloads Across Devices
“Automatic smart downloads” is a very good starting point, even if on one device. However, it can bring even more value if the download can be synced across different devices.
From personal experience, my iPad is my go-to device for reading Medium stories. But I also read from my Macbook every now and then.
When in Banff on my most recent trip, I chose a local cafe to work from early one morning. Unfortunately, the cafe did not have WiFi. I realized that when I pulled Medium on my laptop to do some research for my next blog post, only to be disappointed by the lack of connectivity.
If Medium had a way to download some stories preemptively and sync them across my different devices, or maybe have an offline version of Medium locally cached on my laptop with a curated list of recommended stories, it could have been a game-changer.
Modify Your Saved Reading List
After reading Medium throughout my trip, both on the plane and when camping, my most frustrating lack of feature was the inability to modify my saved or downloaded reading list.
I could not delete saved stories, transfer them to a different list, or even mark them as “read”.
In my opinion, having this functionality in a reading app should be a no-brainer.
There should be some background syncing job that takes care of the reconciliation of stories when the device is back online.
Highlighting on Medium is one of my most used features! I absolutely love it!
But you cannot highlight when offline…Why??!
Similar to the previously proposed feature, this should be a no-brainer. If “highlighting” is one of the core Medium features, not having it available when offline makes no sense.
From a technical perspective, it doesn’t sound impossible to implement either. You just buffer up all the highlights locally and sync them with the backend when back online.
I loved reading throughout my trip to Banff and Jasper. Looking back, there were so many brilliant quotes and ideas I wanted to archive. Unfortunately, I could not, and now they are lost.
Sure, I can go back and re-read and re-highlight. But I shouldn’t have to.
Stories Around You
Medium is one of the healthiest communities online.
I love both the writers and readers on this platform. Interactions are fun, informative, and most importantly, respectful. It’s really unique in a world where platforms like Facebook and Reddit are filled with toxic interactions.
One addition to this concept of community I would propose is the idea of “locality”. Allow me to explain.
When driving from Jasper to Banff, we stopped by a cute local bookstore. There were tons of books on the local flora, fauna, and even the indigenous community. I wanted to pick up a few books, but we didn’t really have the time.
That got me thinking.
Wouldn’t it be awesome if there was a section in the Medium feed with stories from writers around you?
On our river cruise on Lake Maligne in Jasper, our captain told us about the traditional lands of “Stoney Nakoda”. I quickly looked on Medium when back to the hotel later that night, and there were a few brilliant stories about them.
Similarly, when building our itinerary for Banff and Jasper, I found so many amazing stories on Medium about different hikes, wildlife spotting areas, and other fun activities to do.
Couldn’t Medium already recommend these to me based on my location?
That would be a great way to learn more about the local culture, history, or even something as basic as, recommendations.
There you go, folks! These are the 5 features that, in my opinion, can turn Medium into a great travel companion.
I hope you found this helpful. Please comment below with your experience of using Medium offline.
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