We’ve said enough about Snap Previews already, but it’s going to be mentioned once more. This time around, there’s another option to getting previews that’s similar to Snap, but yet very different. It’s called iReader, and instead of the pop-up screenshot previews of linked sites, it gives you a preview in words.
iReader is made by Syntactica who previously had a run with a search engine which, according to Read/Write Web, got shut-down by Google. The linguistics behind that search engine have been put to use again with iReader. You can read in detail how it works here, but in a nutshell, it weighs parts of speech differently, and analyzes the concept in the context of the sentence structure. From that it determines what’s important, and turns it into a bulleted summary.
As far as previews go, I’d say it’s better than Snap for a few reasons. First, the Snap Previews are so small that you really can’t see what you’d actually be getting into by clicking. But more importantly, iReader is an extension for your browser which means you, the reader is in control. It’s your choice if you’d like to use the tool or not, which is not the case with Snap where control lies in the hands of the publisher.
I installed it in my Firefox browser, but it’s also available for Internet Explorer and can be used on both a PC or a Mac. Now, would I actually use it? Probably not. When I hovered over a link, it took about three seconds for the preview to appear. In that time, I probably could have actually clicked on the link which would be more useful than reading a summary.
Another issue that I ran into was that it started pulling information from sidebars. For example, I tried it on CyberNet, and after hovering over a link, the first two bullets told me about CyberMarks which came from the left side column and had nothing to do with what I would have been clicking through to.
This browser extension is still in Beta which means it should only get better over time. If I had to pick between Snap Previews and iReader, it would definitely be the latter, but yet I still am not overly impressed. You can find the download for iReader here.