Offline Pages for iPad: Simple and Free Offline Reading

We've heard so many times that the iPad is the perfect device to consume content and you know what, after some days of testing I have to agree. The iPad is just perfect to read, watch movies and listen to music. Instapaper on the iPad feels great, and so does the iPod app. Safari is very well developed, it's fast and makes it easy to jump from one page to another just to read what's new. I've never done stuff like this on my iPhone. But on the other hand, don't listen to those who say you can't produce content on the iPad: I'm finding myself writing entire posts, taking notes and storing screenshots with it. All in all, it's a great productivity device.

Back to using the iPad as a reading device, there's Instapaper and a couple of good feeds readers that allow me to stay up to date with the latest news and read longer articles from my couch or bed without having to worry about carrying the MacBook with me. It's a good environment. I've just found out this other application though, free in the App Store, which is called Offline Pages and might come in handy if you're not a fan of Instapaper.

Put simply, Offline Pages does just one thing and does it well: it lets you download any page from a website for offline reading. It saves an exact copy of the page in the iPad's cache, so that you can read it on the bus, train or whatever place that doesn't provide an internet connection. Unlike Instapaper, the app doesn't extract only the text part from a page, but it stores the whole layout together with images and stuff. Once you've read the page, you can delete it and forget about it.

The interface of the app is minimal: there's this native-like top bar with an address bar and some icons that you can use to copy the URL of the page you want to save, download the content and access all the pages you've saved. You can use the app both in portrait and split view mode, and in both cases you'll either get a sidebar or a popover with the saved pages. You can also copy the URL of a page or email it with the top right arrow button. I wish there was the possibility to share content on social networks though.

My only gripe is with how you can actually enter pages to save: you can either do it manually or use a bookmarklet, but the bookmarklet doesn't work. Indeed, once you've installed it in Mobile Safari, you can enter pages using it (and this is very handy) but it seems like there's a bug which forces the app to import a page added via  bookmarklet even after you've deleted it. So, it all happens manually by now. Hopefully it will be fixed with an update soon, then the app will be just perfect for what it does.

That said, Offline Pages is a good solution if you're not into Instapaper and you prefer to have the original page saved. If you think about it, you can also use it as some sort of bookmarking utility, and it works just fine in that way. It's free, and you can go download it here.