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October 16th, 2002

Beyond the Browser

One thing I’ve been really thinking about lately is the idea that the web browser is starting to fade away.

More and more, it seems, standalone applications take advantage of an Internet connection if you’ve got one. And the upshot is that these programs are useful. I can think of Weatherbug (Windows) and Meteorologist (OS X): both programs retrieve weather information from the web, and display it in your menubar or taskbar. That’s pretty cool, and a very transparent use for the web.

Similarly, Watson and Sherlock (OS X) do this by breaking out of the browser, but still providing somewhat useful information. RSS aggregators and newsreaders do this, too. All may point a user back to the browser at some point, but it changes the starting point to a program instead of a website.

In the end, I think it’s all very cool… but I’m not sure how useful I find it. I still think that, for me, it’s easier to go to a custom homepage I created to search for movie times versus opening up Sherlock and looking through the Movies “channel”. But part of that, I’m sure, is due to habit. I’m used to the web being a browser-only thing, and now it’s really trying to break free from that.

What do you think? Is the browser going to become less important as time goes on?

Posted in Technology

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