Wattpad, an online community where readers can find and discuss a variety of free stories, is announcing updated versions of its iOS and Android apps.
The two biggest changes in the updates, which went live last week, are probably the addition of offline access and inline commenting. Offline reading seems like an obvious feature for a reading app, since you might want to read on an airplane or in the subway. In Wattpad’s case that doesn’t just mean allowing users to read the stories that they’ve added to their in-app library, but to interact with them, too.
Co-founder and CEO Allen Lau told me via email that with “millions of users from all parts of the world,” offline access is particularly important for those who don’t have fast or consistent Internet connections.
“One of the biggest challenges was ensuring a smooth transition for users who went from an offline experience to an online one,” Lau said. “We had to capture offline actions and then seamlessly process them once an Internet connection was established without disrupting the user experience.”
Inline commenting, meanwhile, expands on existing Wattpad social features like the ability to share and discuss stories, and to follow your favorite authors on the site. Readers can now “comment on specific words, sentences and paragraphs of a story,” Lau said: “It’s almost like they’re reading alongside their friends and they can exclaim, commiserate, and react as the story unfolds.”
And since Wattpad titles can be serialized, those comments might even influence the direction of the plot.
Other additions to the apps include an Archive for Android feature that moves stories out of a user’s Library, the ability to create and share reading lists direction from the apps, and story recommendations based on your past activity.