What if we could reframe the very idea of a ‘web browser’ — dropping the word ‘browser’ to begin with — providing users with a new mental model with which to interact with the web?
The web began life as a ‘place’ to share documents and has evolved in recent years as an application platform and a medium in which we share our ‘conversations’. In the years to come our mental models will again shift as new technologies (VR/AR, IoT, agents, etc) emerge to once again challenge and reshape the way we see the web.
User context tends to currently be held in proprietary silos that users are required to jump between in order to gain insight. System level notifications are one way of delivering just-in-time information to users, but increased usage also creates increased noise forcing many users to turn service notifications off.
There’s also often been talk of ‘glanceable interfaces’, which often mostly turn into badges or flashing, coloured LEDs alerting users to new emails and tweets. If I were looking for a place to start investigating something ‘being immediately useful instead of demanding input when launched’ I’d probably start with a glanceable UI that would look to abstract the active management of silos away from the user.
Taking a page from the Physical Web (where browsers have now been taught to seek out a new type of ‘signal’), there’s also a potential opportunity for users (or user configured/taught agents/algorithms) to quietly and proactively seek out, organise and present specific data on behalf of the user. (Not that different from what a Google NOW might say it does…but in this case, more implicitly personal and user focussed).