It can sometimes be difficult to concentrate on the text a website makes available. Apart from bad style decisions in regards to font types, sizes or colors used on the site, you can also be distracted by other site elements.
Typical examples include auto-playing videos, blinking advertisements, and even plain images that catch your attention.
Readability improving apps and programs help you cope with those, and we have reviewed our fair share of services in the past.
All have in common that you need to click on a button to convert the page you are reading into a distraction free version.
The Focus extension for Firefox and Chrome handles things in a different way. It does not alter the style or fonts on a website. Instead, it enables you to bring focus to areas of the page that you select.
How that is done?
If you are using Google Chrome, you simply install the extension and can start using it right away. All you have to do is highlight text on the page you are on.
You will notice that everything else is put behind a semi-transparent shade that removes the focus from elements that are not selected.
The application works with highlighted text, but also semi-automatically as it recognizes page elements. What this means is that it will automatically highlight the whole element once you start selecting it so that text is not fully selected or at all depending on where you click.
If you want to use the extension in Firefox, you need to first know that the latest version is only compatible with version 29 or newer of the browser.
There is an older version available which you can add on the version history page and it works identical to the latest version.
So, what you need to do is click on the F icon in the taskbar or toolbar of the browser before you select text. It is not as automatic as the Chrome extension which makes it less usable in my opinion.
Focus is a handy extension, especially on Chrome as it works automatic there. It is not nearly as useful on Firefox as you need to active it first before you can start using it.
The big question is whether it is useful enough to be used instead of readability extensions that come with additional useful features.
I'd say it depends. The biggest advantage of the Chrome extension is that it works right away, which readability extensions don't.