Home Firefox Extension Brings Semantic Recommendations to Browser Tabs

Firefox Extension Brings Semantic Recommendations to Browser Tabs

Mozilla is always experimenting with how content is searched and discovered in Firefox. Mozilla Labs has released a new experimental feature today in its Prospector series. Called Predictive NewTab it supplements the fixed list of top sites presented to users when they open a new browser tab in Firefox.

The idea is to use the semantic data of browser history and tagged bookmarks to give users recommendations of places to visit on the Web when they open a new tab. It should make the “speed dial” list of sites users frequently visit faster and more relevant.

In a blog post announcing the experimental Firefox extension, Mozilla uses the example of navigating away from Pandora with a new tab.

“After opening a new tab from Pandora, Firefox searches both your bookmarks and history for similar websites that you may be interested in based on what you were recently browsing,” Mozilla’s Abhinav Sharma wrote.” This is currently displayed along with some experimental statistics such as score (which is how similar the tags are) and “frecency” (which is a measure of frequency and recency). A hub is a page the algorithms and heuristics rate as a good candidate as a “home page” or other important page in a website, and BM Engine is an indicator of whether the search result came from a bookmark tag. The results are ranked by no individual one of these but instead a combination.”

Predictive NewTab works best if a user has a large number of “well-tagged bookmarks.” It will work without bookmarks, but Firefox will have less reference material to pull recommendations from.

Mozilla says that Predictive NewTab is an early-stage experiment and not a polished product designed to help advance history search within Firefox, develop better methods for telling what pages are important to a user and to introduce a “painless way for users to provide feedback to the browser.”

Other experimental features that Mozilla has been working on include the AwesomeBar HD that helps provide categorical search within the browser bar and Home Dash, a Prospector initiative designed to navigate Firefox without and URL bar altogether.

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