10 Comments

Summary:

Microsoft’s newest Windows Phone browser, coming soon via the Mango software update, shows improvements, but tabs aren’t part of the redesign. The small screen of a smartphone limits what controls can be in the browser, but we’ve seen some clever ways to make it work.

Windows Phone 7.5

Microsoft’s newest Windows Phone browser (coming soon via the Mango software update) shows improvements, but tabs aren’t part of the redesign. According to the official Windows Phone blog, by way of Gotta Be Mobile, Microsoft’s research shows that an overwhelming number of smartphone users type out web URLs in the address bar, and that tabs and favorites are barely used at all. Both are still available through the browser’s menus in Mango, however.

With a relatively small screen to work with, I can understand the design trade-off to some degree, but it still feels like an omission to me. Perhaps I’m outside the normal user base of mobile devices, but my go-to browser on Android devices, Dolphin HD, does support traditional tabbed browsing, just like a desktop browser. I use the tabs feature extensively — as well as the favorites — even on the small screen of a smartphone. It’s support for tabs that first drew me to this third-party browser, although there are a number of other reasons I think every Android owner should try it.

While the IE9 browser in the newest version of Windows Phone has impressed me, it’s a little disappointing that Microsoft didn’t go further with the redesign. There’s a number of design options that would have allowed for tabs, favorites or other features in way that doesn’t require a menu button. We’ve seen this with Firefox Mobile, for example; swiping the screen left or right shows open tabs, favorites and settings through the clever use of virtual screen space, similar to Dolphin HD. Even a user-configurable option for tabs would be nice. Instead, IE9 in Mango replicates much of Safari’s look and feel on Apple’s iOS platform.

Again, maybe I’m in the minority. Perhaps most mobile users prefer to type their website addresses in or would rather have the small screen of a smartphone focus mainly on web content as opposed to tabs or on-screen menu options.

It likely depends on the display size on a device: A larger or higher-resolution screen — which new handsets are generally trending toward — may provide enough “room” for tabs and such. What’s your take? Do you want tabs in your mobile browser, or are you happy with tapping a menu option to switch between open sites?

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  1. No it doesn’t need it. Very similar to iphone, we just push little circle icon and it shows us all the open windows.

    1. Safari in iOS 5 is getting tabs. Showing all open windows is just an unnecessary extra step compared to just tapping the tab you want.

      1. Andre, just to be clear: Safari in iOS 5 is getting tabs only on the iPad, IIRC. I have iOS 5 on my iPod touch and there are no tabs in the browser.

      2. I’ve been using iOS 5 for quite some time now. And I’m sorry to disappoint you – no tabs.
        Having said that – I personally do not find the tabs useful. I’ve tried Atomic Web Browser on the iPhone, this browser does offer tabs, and I found that I rarely took advantage of that feature.

  2. “has no tabs”? No no NO, what kind of title is that? They moved accessing tabs from a button on the bar to into the menu which means it’s one extra tap to access them than usual. I don’t love this decision myself, but to write “the browser has no tabs” is plain wrong and irresponsible.

    They have tabs in the same way iOs and Android have ‘em (a separate screen with rectangles), but it takes an extra tap to access now. Please correct the article and stop misleading people.

    1. I understand that you (the author) do mention them being in the menu and technically you’re comparing to the desktop version of tabbing, but your wording is unfair. Dolphin HD might have that, but the default browser on Android doesn’t, mobile Safari doesn’t, mobile Opera doesn’t, mobile Firefox doesn’t, and the previous version of mobile IE didn’t either. They all require a tap or swipe or something to see them. Yet the way you single out IE9 here is bound to confuse and mislead, negatively

      1. There’s no intention to mislead in any way. IE9 doesn’t have tabs in the same sense as conventional modern browsers. Dolphin HD does. As you say, Safari doesn’t and I pointed that out.

  3. Because tabs aren’t a good practice for mobile UIs. Mozilla showed this much with how they I plemented another form of tabbed browsing with their mobile browser. Tabs are a waste of space on a mobile; screen swiping by gestures is better, fan menus (tap and hold, get fan menu from tap center) to swap to another window would be even better (this was shown on several concept browsers, even FF Mobile).

  4. The Windows Phone browser improves on the previous one, but.it is slower than the Semitic browsers available on iPhone and Android.

    To survive in mobile,Microsoft needs to be better than iPhone and Android. But Microsoft is instead slow at catching up. It’s really not good enough.

  5. BS misleading article.

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