The good people at Mozilla have read our minds, again. The latest beta version of Firefox 4 , released on Tuesday, has a new tool to help you get out from under that unruly pile of browser tabs. It's called 'Panorama,' a shortcut-accessible drag-and-drop workspace that allows you to move and organize your browser tabs into named groups. The workspace is also scalable, so you can increase the size of the group of tabs that you're currently working on, or shrink those that are less important and don't require attention.
Not to underestimate our ability to overwhelm ourselves with multitasking, however, when a group of tabs becomes too large to manage even on Panorama's whiteboard, it collapses into a pile, which can be quickly browsed a la the Windows 'Aero' concept.
Tab candy designer Aza Raskin breaks down the design principles behind Panorama in a blog post , including the need to remove distractions from your work flow:
... out of sight, out of mind. This is the corollary to seeing is remembering. We, as humans, are bad at multitasking. As practitioners of GTD know, the secret to productivity is removing distractions and focusing. Piles let you visually hide the pages by which you don’t want to be visually distracted, which strategically requires recall-based memory. When you are in a group, you only see the tabs related to the task at hand, again allowing you to focus. Strategic hiding is key to a mind free of info-guilt.
This fourth beta version also makes Firefox Sync standard, a concept that's been around as an add-on for a few years now. Sync makes all your Firefox settings, passwords, bookmarks and other customizations line up across all your devices. It works with Mozilla's iPhone browser app, and Fennec for Android.
This latest Beta comes as Microsoft is rushing to get its beta for Internet Explorer 9 out next month. The IE 9 final isn't expected this year, whereas Mozilla is moving quickly to have Firefox 4 ready to ship in November.
Here's Mozilla's highlighted list of new additions to this beta:
Firefox 4 Beta 4 is available in 39 languages.
Firefox Sync is now included by default.
A new feature gives users a visual overview of all open tabs, allowing them to be sorted and grouped.
Firefox now supports the HTML5 video "buffered" property.