Tabs have many different purposes that we tend to lump all together into a single idea. What is a tab really? Tabs can be:
- Content we want to save for later
- One of many links fanning out from a single website or rabbit-hole
- Content we’ve already read/watched but forgotten to close
- Apps we are actively using / checking (e.g. Figma, Gmail)
- Things we want to keep open in the background (e.g. Spotify)
One of the important first steps towards reimagining tabs is to understand the ways in which they are used today. For example, we could imagine a core functionality of a browser to send a tab into the future in order to give space for the use case of saving content for later without the mental pressure of having to sort or curate as a bookmark.
I feel like this model can be simplified even further even, boiled down to:
- Past context
- Current context
- Future context
If you break down your tabs into these three categories, you might start to find that your “current context” is actually much smaller than it seems to be on the surface. Currently all three contexts (besides any tabs we finally decide to close) are smooshed into a single space in modern browsers.