Project

General

Profile

Feature #525

Consider adding more touch friendly tab switcher, like Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Brave, etc

Added by Adam Fontenot 3 months ago. Updated 2 months ago.

Status:
New
Priority:
3.x
Start date:
01/17/2020
Due date:
% Done:

0%

Estimated time:

Description

Hi, hope you don't mind other people leaving bug reports; the issue tracker was open registration so I figured it couldn't hurt.

User story: I discovered Privacy Browser yesterday, and was shocked by how full-featured it was given that I had never heard of it before. I want to be able to consider making it my primary browser, but can't currently. The reason is that I use (and prefer) smaller phones, but the tab bar is too small to accurately click on, and the "scrolling" mechanic makes it very difficult for me to close many tabs at a time.

Feature request: a button that would open a full screen tab switcher. I like the one in Firefox the most, personally, but really any full screen interface with larger tab buttons for people with big fingers would be fine. Obviously this feature, when enabled, should automatically disable the current tab bar because it takes up a lot of screen space.

This might be considered an accessibility request, if you have a tag for that. I'm sure there are people who need larger click areas for a variety of reasons.

I've included a screenshot comparing the UX of Privacy Browser and Firefox for 8 tabs open. Note that with a single button within thumb's reach, Firefox has shown me all eight of my tabs, with large easy-to-click buttons. I can click or swipe to close each tab, or click a tab to open it. Privacy Browser has no clear visual indication of how many tabs I have open. To close a tab, I have to repeatedly click on an 'x' button on the top left corner of my screen, which is not within reach of my thumb (meaning I have to switch to using the phone with two hands). Opening a tab means trying to scroll on the small tab bar to find the tab I want.

Thanks for your hard work, it looks to me like Privacy Browser has a lot of great features that you can't get elsewhere at present.


Files

History

#1

Updated by Soren Stoutner 3 months ago

  • Assignee set to Soren Stoutner

This is the perfect place to leave a bug report or feature request and users are encouraged to do so.

First, you might be interested in reading a little bit of background regarding the tab interface. I wrote a fair amount about it at https://www.stoutner.com/privacy-browser-design-guidelines/. If you search for the word "tab" you will find a section that starts about halfway down the page.

There is also some discussion about the evolution of the close button at https://redmine.stoutner.com/issues/416.

You are the first person who has reported difficulty with the size of the tabs being too small for accurate interaction. Android adjusts the height of the tabs so that it should be an appropriate size for fingers on any device. I am curious about the resolution and physical screen size of the device you are using, the Android display size you have selected (in the main Android OS settings), and if you have difficulty interacting with many of the button in other apps (which are often smaller/closer together than the tabs in Privacy Browser).

As you might or might not already know, if you desire to close all the tabs you can do so by tapping Clear and Exit from the navigation menu. However, as you pointed out, if you desire to close some of your tabs, currently the only way to do so is to tap on each one and then tap the close button (or tap the back button if the tab is the at the beginning of its history). Although this isn't ideal in all circumstances, I am not initially inclined to create a secondary tab interface just for that purpose, mostly because, as I describe in the link above, for a majority of cases I feel that secondary tab interfaces are inferior UIs, something I personally do not like about using most mobile browsers, and something I specifically designed Privacy Browser not to do. I didn't want a system that would end up with dozens of tabs in the background because there is no way to close them from the main screen, I didn't want the tab interface to be buried behind two taps (although what I have ended up with on small phones is that sometimes it requires a swipe and tap, which I admit isn't ideal), and I didn't want any type of popup or secondary activity that would replace or cover the screen when dealing with tabs.

As you suggested, it would be possible to create an optional tab interface that users could enable. However, having multiple, optional, UI interfaces is more difficult than most people who have never tried to program probably imagine, and it makes maintaining the codebase significantly more difficult because changes in seemingly unrelated sections of the code can create bugs that only manifest when particular UI options are combined, making the testing of new features require running through every possible UI combination. In addition, creating an optional interface would require a significant amount of time that I would prefer to spend developing other features I feel are more important.

However, I will leave this feature request open. If there are enough users who have accessibility problems with the current tab interface then I will consider doing something to address it.

#2

Updated by Adam Fontenot 2 months ago

You are the first person who has reported difficulty with the size of the tabs being too small for accurate interaction. Android adjusts the height of the tabs so that it should be an appropriate size for fingers on any device. I am curious about the resolution and physical screen size of the device you are using, the Android display size you have selected (in the main Android OS settings), and if you have difficulty interacting with many of the button in other apps (which are often smaller/closer together than the tabs in Privacy Browser).

This is a Moto X4. The screen is 5.2 in (130 mm) 1920 × 1080 (16∶9, 424 px/in) according to Wikipedia. I have the display size set to "small" (my preferred setting). I think some Android devices have more than three display size settings, but this Motorola phone has only three, and "small" is the smallest of the three. I don't remember the default offhand.

Here's a little more information that may help explain. I use my phone (almost) exclusively with one hand. This means that pushing a button is always done with my right thumb, which has to reach over the screen to push the button. Certain parts of the screen are completely out of reach unless I completely reposition the phone in my hand temporarily (balancing the phone on the tips of my fingers to give my thumb extra reach). The "x" tab close button is like that currently on Privacy Browser. Even when a button is just within reach of my thumb, if it requires stretching my thumb over the screen, the touch accuracy of my already large thumb is greatly reduced, and the possibility of misclicks because of the thumb's proximity to the screen is high.

I'm attaching an image with two photos of the furthest reach of my thumb without requiring repositioning. This is about the point at which misclicks and general inaccuracy becomes a problem, and stretching my thumb this far is a little uncomfortable. As you can see from the photos, it's difficult for me to accurately swipe and click on the tab bar. Parts of the bar and the "x" close button are entirely out of reach. If I were a "peck" smartphone user, where the phone remains cradles in one hand while the dominant forefinger "pecks" at the screen, this might not be a problem. Not so easy for people with smaller phones who use them one-handed, however. (I do it by preference, other people might have to.)

Compare with the screenshot of Firefox I uploaded initially. While opening the tab manager requires one slightly uncomfortable button press, tab management at that point can be done entirely with clicks on the easy-to-reach lower-middle-right of the screen. Basically every app I use regularly has the same affordances.

I didn't want the tab interface to be buried behind two taps (although what I have ended up with on small phones is that sometimes it requires a swipe and tap, which I admit isn't ideal)

My thought here is that in fact the tab interface on a phone usually requires many swipes, given the number of tabs I typically have open.

Obviously you can do what you want with the browser, it's your project! Just thought that feedback on how at least one person uses their phone might be helpful for UX design.

#3

Updated by Soren Stoutner 2 months ago

I appreciate the detailed comment. Not everyone takes the time to be that descriptive, which I find to be helpful.

You might be aware that there is a pending feature request to have an option to move the app bar to the bottom of the screen. This is actually unimaginably difficult to do as an option (think, for a second, about how the logic would have to work to scroll the app bar off the screen, which is the opposite of how it has to work at the top of the screen and quite difficult to have it optionally switch back and forth), and I am not yet sure I am even going to implement it.

https://redmine.stoutner.com/issues/143

But if I did do this, would it resolve the issue of the reach of your thumb (still providing a suboptimal tab experience compared to what you have requested)?

Also available in: Atom PDF