A new web browser makes it easier to search on mobile devices

Complex Mobile Search Without Tabs.

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Scientists at Carnegie Mellon University have developed a new web browser that organizes complex searches in a way not possible with conventional tabbed browsing.

Named Bento browser, it stores each search session as an undertaking workspace that monitors the most fascinating or relevant parts of visited website pages. It’s a bit much for a client to keep each site open to avoid losing data.

Aniket Kittur, associate professor in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII), said, “With Bento, we’re structuring the entire experience through these projects. This new way to browse eliminates the tab overload that limits the usefulness of conventional browsers.”

Bento can help users distinguish pages they discovered helpful, waste unhelpful pages, and monitor what they have perused on each page. It also packages the output pages into task cards, such as housing, day trips, transportation, etc. The task could be imparted to other individuals arranging their own outings.

Nathan Hahn, a Ph.D. student in HCII, said, “Mobile devices now initiate more web searches than do desktop computers. Yet the limitations of conventional browsers become acuter on mobile devices. Not only is screen size limited, but mobile users are more often interrupted and distracted and have more difficulty saving and organizing information.”

During experiments, some of the users offered feedback, saying, “They preferred Bento in cases where they wanted to continue a search later and wanted to pick up where they left off. Bento kept their searches better organized.”

When compared with Safari, they found Bento more useful for finding pages and believed that Bento made their mobile searches more effective. Its capabilities for organizing searches and helping people resume searches could also benefit people using desktop computers.

Kittur said, “If we get a lot of people using it, Bento could serve as a microscope to study how people make sense of information. This might lead to a new type of artificial intelligence.”

Kittur’s research team will present a report on their mobile web browser at CHI 2018, the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, April 21-26 in Montreal, Canada. A research version of the Bento Browser for iPhones is available for download from the App Store. Their work is published in ACM Digital Library.

Journal Reference

  1. Nathan Hahn, Joseph Chee Chang, and Aniket Kittur. 2018. Bento Browser: Complex Mobile Search Without Tabs. In Proceedings of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’18). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, Paper 251, 1–12. DOI: 10.1145/3173574.3173825

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