I’m taking a little interest in Project Tofino these days, and they’re trying to take a fresh look at the browser and designing a browser that isn’t a browser. Or, more precisely, trying to think how a browser would work and look if you didn’t have all those years of document reader history.
A browser is a generic thing, and when you open it, it’s empty, or you can choose to open one specific page. If you have speed dial, you can define some pages to inhabit your speed dial page. You get miniature screenshots of the last time you visited the page. Old stuff, or just an image mimicking old stuff. It’s not that appealing, and it doesn’t draw you in.
An app, on the other hand, got you covered. You have your new content, messages, alerts, issues, replies or retweets ready, waiting for you when you open it.
How can a browser compete with that? Maybe let it get one step closer to your digital life, integrate a bit better? Then it may actually do compete quite well?
The Speed Dial
Let’s take the speed dial first. Why isn’t it populated with content, showing you what has happened on your favourite sites / web applications? If it’s a news site, it’s a matter of fixing a RSS feed, if something more application like, you need to attach to the API. But nothing that hasn’t been done before.
Just a quick drawing makes it believable, at least I got a good feeling.
What if your browser could automatically add search engines for all your logged in services? It’s easily doable with Opensearch.xml. Or what if you could index all your actions and reactions of your digital life. Images posted, blogposts written, comments made, comments gotten, etc. Easily filtered on people, events and places.
Google, Bing, Yahoo and Duck Duck Go is not that different. You choose one over the other, and stick wit that for a while. Also, selecting the search engine before typing your query is a bit like the librarian like search engines. You did a lot of choices before you got any response back. But when you do a search first, and then select the engine, you’ve already got some (autosuggest) answers back, and the dialog has already started.