In most web browsers, when you click on the new tab button or use the shortcut Ctrl-t, you get a new tab page with a set of bookmarks or often visited sites.
The idea behind those "speed dial" like new tab pages is to give users a chance to open often visited websites quickly.
Opera went ahead recently with Opera Next by adding dynamic contents to the new tab page, including an ability to install extensions that dynamically update content on that page.
Google Chrome on the other hand displays most visited and recently closed pages along web apps and bookmarks.
The new tab page on Firefox is blank, at least on my computer. I'm not sure if that is the default behavior or if I have changed a setting in the past. (Update: Firefox displays often used sites and a search on the new tab page now).
Internet Explorer finally displays a list of popular sites and options to reopen the last session or recently open tabs.
The problem with static contents on the new tab page is that some may lose their value to the user. They are also never related to another open website in the browser.
Predictive Newtab is a new Mozilla Labs project that adds dynamic site suggestions to the new tab page of the Firefox web browser. Dynamic means that the add-on calculates possible matches by searching a user's bookmarks and history.
If you are on YouTube for instance and press the new tab button, you may get suggestions to visit Gametrailers, Hulu or Dailymotion, while a visit on Ghacks might suggest Lifehacker, Neowin or Makeuseof instead.
The plugin displays information about each link, tags, a computed score and whether the site has been bookmarked on the new tab page. It is likely that the interface will get polished up before its release to a wider audience.
The developer notes that Predictive Newtab works best on systems with a large number of well tagged bookmarks, but that it will work even on systems without any bookmarks. All computations are done in the browser and stay on the local system.
The basic idea behind the add-on is that users who open a tab after visiting a specific type of site are more likely to visit another site of the same type. I'm not sure if that assumption is correct. It would probably be better if the developer would add suggestions plus a compilation of the most visited sites or a custom selection of sites on the new tab page, to give the user the best of both worlds.
Firefox users who would like to test the experimental add-on can download it at the official Firefox add-on repository. The add-on is compatible with all versions of the browser from version 4 onward.
Update: While it is still possible to install the extension in Firefox, it does not seem to display anything on the new tab page anymore. The add-ons' last update dates back to 2011 and something seems to have broken in the years since then.
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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.