After several months in development Aza Raskin has finally announced Tab Candy, an important update to tabbed browsing. Originally implemented as a low profile extension (the project page asked not to blog about it), it implements several ideas submitted for last year Mozilla Labs’ Design Challenge that asked people to reimagine tabbed browsing.
You definitely need to see the video to really understand what it does. In plain words it brings a visual way to organize large number of tabs into logical groups so that you can easily find what you are looking for, mimicking the way we usually sort things in the real world: assigning a space to them.
The future is just as promising as the present: quick searching, tab sharing, and most interesting auto-grouping. For example tabs opened from a web search are most likely related and could make a group on their own, or adding tabs to existing tab groups based on keywords. I would also like to see Firefox capable of identifying communication sites like blogs, web mail, forums, lists, etc. It shouldn’t be hard to see where I tend to frequently submit large amount of text, or small chunks which would signal microblogging, for example.
You can try Tab Candy in this experimental Firefox build (based on Firefox pre-Beta 2 code). Note that there’s no official word on whether Tab Candy will be part of Firefox 4 or not.