Back in the day of expensive pay per minute dial-up connections surfing offline used to be a major part of our Internet lives but in recent years it has rather faded from view. Our always on, broadband boosted PCs no longer require this facility but our mobile devices could do with a version updated for the 21st century.
You see GPS and 3G surfing remains an expensive commodity and wireless hotspots may be great while we’re in one place but they don’t help us on the move. In fact, many times I’ve gone to my favourite RSS feeds in Firefox, selected ‘Open In Tabs’ and simply hibernated my laptop only to boot it up later to read on a train or plane. “There must be a better way?” I often thought to myself. Launching this week, Webaroo is definitely one of them.
A free software programme, Webaroo is a customisable app that can automatically download content from your favourite websites and synchronise it to a laptop, PDA or smart phone before you set off on your travels. It allows individual websites can be specified or more general searches that Webaroo calls ‘web packs’ which contain smart links to topics such ‘World Cup Soccer 2006’ and ‘World News’ or city guides including the likes of London, Los Angeles or Sydney.
Now depending on how much content a user wants downloaded (either just the front page: great for blogs – or all pages one link from it) file size can vary tremendously. A one link deep storage of the TrustedReviews site, for example, worked out as just 614KB but if you want a full searchable London web pack containing offline searchable sites about business, nightlife, history, theatre, maps, restaurants et al you can be looking at up to 256MB. This content is downloaded to your computer meaning the only limit on what you can download is the space of your hard drive.
In a perfect world a piece of software like Webaroo wouldn’t be necessary since we’d all have permanently available, high speed broadband access at any location from every device we use. Technology marches on but we’re a long way from that and in the meantime Webaroo looks to be a very useful alternative.