I recently praised the google chrome dev team for having a superior browsing experience on mobile devices. They really do, hands down. But, there is an aspect where it still seems to fall short for me and other users of this pattern.
Enter the tab expansion browsing pattern.
The Tab Expansion Browsing Pattern:
Browsing a site by opening links of interest into new tabs, while closing out the current content tab upon completion. This runs counter to traditional sequential browsing pattern that result in a string of single page requests that relate to consumption of information.
Tab Expansion Browsing steps:
- go to google and search for ‘bagels’
- open 2 interesting results
- refine search terms and reload
- open 3 more interesting results
- [eventually] close the primary tab
- repeat expansion for the pages of each result tab
This tab expansion pattern is how I consume most sites I visit, there is very little sequential page surfing within the same tab/window. It minimizes my page load/reload delays and allows me to flit between tabs at a fast pace. On the desktop, middle mouse click or context menus make this a really friendly experience.
Now, to mobile…
On mobile devices, it is easy in the sense that the feature is there. A prolonged touch event provides a context menu to open in a new tab. But it is not as pleasant as it should be. There is no equivalent to the middle mouse click in terms of built-in behavior.
In addition, it requires you to perform a delayed touch-down event, then release that sequence via touch-up. Now you can interact with the content menu item via a whole new touch-down/touch-up action.
At a minimum I feel like these context menus need to function as real context menus do and require no additional touch clearing event prior to interacting w/ the content menu. The touch-down should simulate grab, and the content should be an action to be performed when you drop the grabbed link.
In a more ideal mobile browser, I’d like to see a gesture adding this action without the context menu. I like gesture based browser plugins on the desktop, and if the input device is a stylus (fingers) then creativity is needed in the UX layer. Clicking a link and dragging into a ‘new tab’ overlay section/edge of the screen.
Something just feels wrong about the current arrangement of interaction.
On Safari Mobile, it feels really wrong… as ‘open new page’ immediately switches to the new page, instead of a background tab.
Whats old is new, little things go a long way…
The more I’ve thought about solutions, the more I come back to the Secret of Mana “ring command” menu system, minus the rotation. But at this point, even a small improvement to reduce the stylus clicking would welcomed by me.
Would you make use of a better ‘open in new tab’ experience in mobile browsers? Have you seen this work better in other mobile browsers in a different way?