Remember when tabbed browsing came around? How useful it was? How much it cleaned up your start bar? What if there was a new way to visualize your internet experience, like 3D browsing maybe? Will it actually be something useful, or will it flop?
Wow, that was a lot of questions. Now on to SpaceTime.
SpaceTime is an internet browser with a twist, offering 3D navigation similar in visual design to Vista’s window switcher. It’s like tabbed browsing in 3D. For example, every new URL you browse opens a new window in the 3D space. You can then navigate around the space as you like, or even move and manipulate the individual windows themselves.
A nice feature in SpaceTime is its integrated 3D search. Located on the right side of the menu bar, the browser has a built-in functionality to search sites such as Google, Flickr, YouTube, eBay, and several others. SpaceTime will pull up the first ten results after you submit a search, opening each one in its own window in the 3D space. What’s great about it is that you can see a visual representation of your search, instead of just links. So, you’ll be able to see the results and go the page you want immediately. In addition to search, you can even set up SpaceTime with your RSS feeds and browse through your feed articles in 3D.
Each search, along with your general “tabbed” browsing, will be opened in a new stack away from the others, which is good for keeping the spaces clean and more “organized.” This means that it will be clear in the 3D space where your Amazon search windows is in relation to your YouTube search. You’ll then be able to move between the sets and browse through the various stacks.
As for the user experience, it’s quite easy to get “lost” when you’re navigating manually through the 3D space. This problems happens quite often especially when you have a lot of windows open. I recommend using the the “Previous” and “Next” buttons to toggle between windows and sets. Another somewhat annoying characteristic of SpaceTime is that it feels quite crammed when browsing in the 3D space. Windows won’t fill up the application window unless you opt to maximize it. Even then, you’ll have to press a “Go Back” button to return the 3D space and access other windows. It can get quite time-consuming and frustrating at the same time, and you end up clicking much more than you’d like. Browsing gets even more difficult as the program slows to a crawl with an increasing number of open windows, especially on less powerful systems.
So what’s my verdict on SpaceTime’s 3D browsing? Gimmick. I really don’t see much use for a feature like this. It would be a “nice” optional add-on for a fully fledged browser like Firefox, but SpaceTime as a standalone really doesn’t have the functionality for everyday use. Think of it more like the illegitimate child of Compiz and Internet Explorer. However, it’s good to see a little eye-candy every now and then. Well what do you all think? Is this the next innovation in browsing or not?