Firefox

Like Rich, I am pretty enamored of Firefox right now. The community of addon developers, the ease of installing addons, tabbed browsing — great stuff.

It is interesting that browser innovation has been so slow over the last 3-4 years. Given that we spend so much time staring at this app, you’d have thought there would have been a lot more going on. Glad to see the pace picking up.

One thing I wonder about is the “One Size Fits All” design of the browser. We spend all day in this app, but we are actually doing very different things at different times. But the app provides a single set of fairly generic features, controls, menu items — a set that is constant across all our usage.

I think we are doing very different tasks during the day tho. I can think of at least 4 classes of distinct usage — and I think we might want different features in our supporting app for each usage scenario.

# “Intranet” apps. Outlook Web Access, MT/blogging, Wikis/Collab apps, etc. Usually behind a tighter security wall, a lot of data input compared to other usages. I use these apps continually, I want very quick access to them, I want high security but I don’t want to have to fight thru all the trust/security config in the browser to make these sites work (remember passwords, permit popups, allow scripting, allow java, allow activex, permit cookies, etc etc etc), i want much better in-browser editing tools, i want easy file upload/download, etc.
# Commerce/shopping. I want great automatic search for competitive prices and offers, I want easy autofill of forms, I want to easily go back and check past transactions and their status including shipping, I want to easily save all the “transaction completed” pages, I want to see relevant ads from competitive vendors, I want to see user reviews, etc etc.
# Search (not commerce oriented). I want much better navigation of search results — easy ability to drill down on found pages but then easy to pop back up to the root, i want to save search results (the exact pages i find ala furl), i want meta search, i could go on for a while here.
# Reading. There are a set of sites I hit every day that sadly don’t have RSS feeds — mostly commercial sports sites. I want to easily hit these pages every day, navigate thru new articles — I kind of want the same behaviour for these sites that I get for RSS-enabled sites thru my aggregator.

Seems to me there is room to innovate in the browser to make it more task/usage specific.