At the beginning of 2016, Mozilla renewed its testing program to offer users the possibility to test the new Firefox features before they are implemented in the final version of the browser. With Firefox Test Pilot the user can play with the new features without even having to install an unstable version of the browser.
If you have installed the Test Pilot add-on in Firefox or if you dare to start using it, you can now try three new experiments with the browser tabs that will show you what Mozilla is working on and maybe we will see arrive in the immediate future. And, spoiler alert: it’s the best we’ve seen in Firefox in a long time.
Some time ago we talked about Min Vid, PageShot and Tracking Protection, three interesting Test Pilot functions, but that honestly will not call your attention as much as these three others. What Firefox is trying to do with the future of the tabs could change even the way we use the browser.
In Genbeta we have tried Tab Center, Activity Stream and Snooze Tabs, three new experiments from the Firefox Test Pilot program focused on the tabs. To get to the final version would offer extremely striking features that make things better than some popular extensions. If you want to try it for yourself, you just have to download the add-on in your stable version of Firefox from the Test Pilot website.
Tab Center or the center of tabs of Firefox, is an extremely interesting experiment with which basically replace the tabbed browsing in the Mozilla browser. This function adds a side panel where we can see thumbnails of each tab one below the other.
If you activate this feature all your tabs will be on one side instead of on top. If you have too many tabs open, you have a search engine to find the correct tab. The edge of the Tab Center can be dragged to be as big or small as you want. And best of all, you can press a button to remove it from the middle if it bothers you. Another button and you return to the tabbed browsing of always, whenever you want.
Honestly I had never tried anything similar or using third-party add-ons, but I must say that navigating this way, especially if you’re one of those who choke on tabs and end up with illegible icons crammed side by side, the Tab Center offers a way more comfortable and visual to maintain order and move between everything you have open.
Snooze Tabs is one of the most recent experiments in the Firefox Test Pilot. Basically it applies to the browser a function quite similar to what the Mailbox mail client offered, or what you can do with the Google Inbox. It’s a save for later on steroids.
This function for now experimental, adds a new button to the panel of tools of Firefox, with the you can do “snooze” of any tab, that is, forget about it for a moment and remove it from the middle, like the alarm at the time of get up. Snooze Tabs is perfect for removing distractions from the front, but without losing the page of view.
By default you have several options, from a later today, tomorrow, the weekend, next week, next month, or just the next time you open Firefox. You can also choose a specific date and time. When you press the button and choose when the tab will return, you have a confirmation message and “poof!” the tab goes away, it does not consume resources, it does not hinder, but you know exactly when it will appear again.
Activity Stream is basically a replacement of the new tab page. It tries to offer a way for the user to navigate without losing the thread of what he is doing. Each time you open a new tab the Activity Stream shows you the most visited sites, your bookmarks and the recent history in each new tab.
Instead of having to visit the history separately if you are looking for something you had seen a while ago, yesterday, or a week ago, and closed, this function gives you an overview of your browsing chronologically.
This is perhaps the function of the three mentioned that I find greener, not only when installing it I can not get the button to access the stream, but it feels like an incomplete idea yet. However, it is perhaps as close as Firefox is to implement what they have called trails in Servo, or how Mozilla wants to evolve the web browsing model using tabs.
All Firefox Test Pilot experiments are available in stable versions of Firefox for both Windows, Linux and macOS.