Damn you, Indecision!

Tabbed browsing on the iPad?

As I watched the video of the iPad announcement, I wondered how tabbed
browsing would be handled on it. After all, several of the stock apps
had been redesigned to take advantage of the additional screen real
estate, so surely we would get desktop-like tabbed browsing now? It
doesn’t seem that way, unfortunately.

For a while I couldn’t find anyone describe how the tabbed browsing
would work on an iPad in the many “hands-on” articles that cropped up
after the announcement. Finally, the write-up on MacWorld mentioned
that there was a button at the top of the browser that when tapped,
would show a 3×3 square of tiles representing 9 open windows. I don’t
recall exactly if this would be an overlay on the browser window like
how the bookmarks are handled, or if this button would open a new
browser screen to display the grid. Either way, it’s not my first
choice for handling tabbed browsing. My suggestions follow:

1. The most obvious option is to have a row of tabs at the top of the
browser window like we’re used to on a desktop browser. Why not? The
Numbers iWork app uses multiple tabs for spreadsheets. However, I
guess this takes up too much screen real estate for TPTB. Perhaps a
3rd-party iPad browser will do something like this.

2. If we can’t have the regular browser tabs, give us a multitouch
gesture to swipe through open tabs. Either tap and hold on the current
browser window to go into “slide” mode (similar to how Phil Schiller
moved slides around in Keynote) and swipe through the open tabs as you
would photos in the photo library. Or, just swipe with 2 or 3 fingers
to swipe left or right to another tab without needing to enter a
special mode.

3. If the “open windows” button of the iPad’s browser does open a new
window just to display the open tabs, why not replace it with a drop-
down menu or an overlay that pops into the center of the screen with
either a list or grid of the tabs? Opening a new window is inefficient.

While I think that mobile Safari is the best mobile browser I’ve used,
the way it handles tabs on the iPhone/iPod touch is not cool.
Inelegant. I hope it’s better on the iPad.

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