Different teams and individuals are working on the Firefox web browser. Some are improving the web browser's core, others are working on the interface or experimental extensions that may one day be added to the web browser's core.
One of those experimental spin-offs is the AwesomeBar HD which is now available as a beta release for Firefox 4 and newer versions of the web browser. As the name suggests, it has something to do with Firefox's address bar.
AwesomeBar HD has been designed to improve Firefox's existing address bar functionality. It combines two different aspects. First, it offers options to select items from the local browsing history quickly and efficiently. I'm not entirely sure how that differs from Firefox's current handling of type-as-you-go results in the address bar. Maybe the results listing has been improved to put the most likely results at the top of the suggestion list.
The second feature introduces categories to the address bar. After you install the extension you will notice a list of category suggestions that are placed in it. This ranges from searching the web over books, references, shopping or sport. One of the negative side effects of this is that the url of the website may not be displayed in full anymore.
That's a big security issue as it makes you more vulnerable to phishing attacks.
There does not seem to be a way to display the url in full at this point in development. You can display the web address in full by clicking on it.
But how do these categories work then? Well the idea is that you enter a search term and pick a category to perform a search on the web for that term. You can alternatively start with a category and enter the search term afterwards.
The categories basically lead to specialized search engines. Most categories list more than one search engine so that you can switch the category's default search engine. You find three video search engines under video, and the three top search engines under search the web. The search results page is opened in a new tab in the web browser.
For me personally, this looks like nothing more than a pre-defined list of keyword searches turned into clickable categories. So, instead of having to configure search engines and keywords that you want to use, you end up with a large list of clickable search engines instead.
I do not really see a reason to use it. Then again, it is an early release and the developer could improve the add-on significantly, for instance by adding options to add or remove categories and search engines from the listings, or by allowing users to enter the category name, e.g. video, manually in the address bar.
AwesomeBar HD is available at the Firefox add-on repository. It is a restartless add-on that is ready for use without restart of the browser.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.