What will the Web look like in 10 years? Will we still be using something similar to current Web browsers or will there be a radically new interface for the Web? And will we even be using something like a PC or will all access be through mobile devices and dedicated appliances?
These and other questions are what Mozilla Labs is hoping to answer with their Concept Series, which is dedicated towards discussing and preparing for the future Web. And one of the first and most interesting projects from the Concept Series is Aurora, a fully thought-out idea of a browser in 2018.
Aurora is the brainchild of Adaptive Path, a design and consulting firm. Aurora doesn't exist as a real application, it is simply a set of ideas and graphical mockups. But it does point to a possible new direction for Web browsers.
Looking at the Aurora concepts it immediately reminded me of other 3D interfaces such as Sun's Looking Glass. The Aurora interface is designed to be highly interactive, to use real-world interface methodologies, and to be contextually aware of what a user is doing and what they've done in the past.
Looking at these initial concepts for Aurora, I was impressed with the amount of work that Adaptive Path had put into their mockups and browser ideas. One could easily see this being a next-generation browser.
But I am also skeptical about some of the perceived directions of the Aurora interface. I'm still not completely sold on the idea that a real-world interface is superior to an interface adapted to the necessities of computing and the Web. As I've said in the past, there are many times that I wished the real world had an interface more like the Web or my computer.
I'm also a bit skeptical about interfaces that try to adapt to what a user is doing by bringing some content front and center while pushing back other content. In my experience these work OK in some dedicated work contexts but most real people are too unpredictable and spontaneous for these to really work. Just because I've done something a certain way in the past doesn't mean I won't need to do it in a radically new way today.
Still, I like what Mozilla and contributors such as Adaptive Path are doing with the Concept Series and Aurora. These types of projects will hopefully lead to a future Web that we'll all be happy to surf to.