Web browsers are our doorways to the internet. Even though they are vital and have been around for a while, their development has been slow. Yet, features like Firefox Hello, Chrome Task Manager, and a few advanced features in Microsoft Edge show us how much they can improve.
In the future, we might see even more features that make browsing easier and more user-friendly. In this post, I will share 10 features I wish to see in upcoming browser versions.
1. Quick Link Previews
Have you used Wikiwand, the modern take on Wikipedia? One feature I love there is the link preview. This concept has become popular in various platforms, like operating systems and even YouTube, where you can see video frame previews by hovering over the progress bar.
This tool would be great in browsers. When we hover over a text link, we could see a quick glimpse of the web page it leads to. It helps users decide if they want to click on it or not.
And, it’d be great to have this preview for browser tabs as well.
2. Page Minimaps
Many text editors have a handy feature: a small box, usually in the top-right corner, that displays the entire page. Users can move a marker on this map to quickly navigate through different parts of the page.
Imagine having this in web browsers. It would make navigating lengthy web pages so much easier, reducing the need for excessive scrolling and searching.
3. Side Tabs for Better Organization
Many of us often find ourselves with numerous open browser tabs. If you’ve been in this situation, side tabs or vertical tabs can be incredibly useful. Instead of struggling to identify each tab at the top, or switching between them one by one, vertical tabs provide an organized view on the side.
Opera once introduced this feature but removed it after a short time. Some browser extensions can replicate this function, but it would be ideal if major desktop browsers included it as a standard feature. Recently, many design trends are shifting towards side menus, indicating that users may prefer vertical layouts for certain elements.
4. Easily Accessible Pinned Tabs
When you’re deep into online research, having dockable or pinned tabs is an excellent option. Imagine having one or two tabs anchored to your browser window for quick reference while you browse other tabs. This function would work similarly to how the YouTube mobile app allows a video player to remain visible on the screen while you explore other videos.
5. Clear Indicators for Different Link Types
This isn’t about previewing linked webpages by hovering over them. When I mention link types, I’m referring to distinctions between internal and external links, or links that direct to commonly used file types such as PDFs, or those that lead to unsupported file formats which get automatically downloaded.
Having clear indicators for internal and external links helps users know whether they’re staying on the same site or navigating to a different one. Similarly, showing icons or notifications for various file types would be useful, especially for files that browsers can’t open and are instead downloaded.
6. The Cookie Law Warning
The Cookie Law is a piece of privacy legislation that requires websites to get consent from visitors to store or retrieve any information on a computer, smartphone or tablet. Whether it’s cookies or HTML local storage or some other form of data collection and storage on the users’ machine, it has to be made known to them and done with their consent.
Many websites have implemented this on their own, but why not have this feature built in on browsers? When a web site uses a technology to collect or store data on users’ machines, the users should get a small warning at the top or bottom of the browser. This makes it easier on developers too.
7. Zoom into Selected Text
Imagine being able to zoom into a specific part of the text you want to see up close. That would be handy, right? Some Android phones offer a double-tap feature to zoom in, but it would be great if everyone could enjoy this feature on their browsers.
8. Uniform Cursor for Links and Buttons
It can sometimes be confusing to differentiate between links and buttons. Traditionally, hovering over links changes the mouse cursor to a pointing hand, signaling it’s a clickable hyperlink. Why not have this as the standard cursor for buttons as well? If there are other elements that would benefit from this pointer, they should be included too.
9. Limit Number of Open Tabs
Imagine a “Restricted Tab Mode” where you can limit the number of open tabs. Extensions exist for Chrome and Firefox that let you set a maximum number of open tabs. This can help reduce distractions or help users focus on specific tasks. It would be ideal if this feature was standard in browsers.
10. Quick Return to Top Button
While minimaps might not be practical for smaller screens, a small “go to top” button in a corner could be very useful. The Safari mobile browser offers a feature where a single tap at the top of the screen takes you back to the start of the page. It would save users a lot of scrolling, and it’d be great to see this in all mobile browsers.
If you’re looking for different browser experiences, consider these alternatives: