As Paul mentioned in Part 1 of this post, we’ve really focused on making your everyday browsing experience better. In addition to the useful changes he talked about, we’ve made IE8 even more useful with integrated services so that you can easily accomplish the common things you do on the web – search for a product, check the weather, map an address, and more)
In Beta 1, we showed how IE8 could be better with services with features like Accelerators and Web Slices (BTW, Accelerators are the same as the Beta 1 Activities with an updated name and icon). For Beta 2 we have even more features that help you use your favorite sites in new ways. Check out these features as you explore the product!
Search Box Suggestions
New to IE8 beta 2 are Search (text) Suggestions and Visual Search Suggestions which are wired into the Search box. As you type in the Search box, the selected search provider can offer query suggestions and display search results right in place! Not only can the search provider provide text suggestions, they can include images as well. This way you can dynamically narrow down your search results quickly and get single-click access to the web page without having to leave the Search box. Also, check out our new Quick Pick menu which puts your search providers at your fingertips.
To make it easier to take advantage of the enhanced Search box, we automatically update many of your existing search providers to versions that support suggestions. If you want more providers use the IE8 Gallery.
Copy-navigate-paste is old. Accelerators are services that you access directly from the webpage in the context of what you’re doing, letting you bookmark, define, email, map and more with a simple selection. Even your search providers are available as Accelerators. Some Accelerators provide previews so that you can view the result without having to leave the current webpage. Clicking on an Accelerator opens a new tab with the full result.
We’ve given you more control in IE8 beta 2 by adding custom categories to an Accelerator so that you can control how your Accelerators are organized. Just select an Accelerator from the Manage Add-ons dialog.
Find out if your favorite site has an Accelerator available from the IE8 Gallery.
As we showed in Beta 1, Web Slices give you updates directly from the Favorites bar, helping you keep track of your important information. A Web Slice is a subscription to part of a web page; when an update is available, IE8 bolds the title of the Web Slice so you know there’s something new to see. I have several Web Slices that make it easy to keep track of my favorites – the weather, friend updates on Facebook, popular links from Digg, and current auction items on eBay. When there’s something new to see, you can preview the update and click through to the full web page for more details. We’ve also added a refresh button from the preview for Beta 2 so that you can get the latest content without having to navigate.
When a site supports Web Slices a Web Slice icon appears in the command bar. Try out Web Slices with eBay, Digg, Live Search (type in your city + weather like “Seattle weather”), and more from the IE8 Gallery.
Feeds on the Favorites bar
In IE7 we added feed reading to the browser. For the IE8 Beta 2 release, we’ve made it even easier to reach your feeds by allowing them to be added to the Favorites bar. You’ll get updates just like you did before where unread headlines are marked in bold. Selecting a headline opens the full web page.
Feeds are available for most websites today – select the feed icon in the command bar and use the new add button on the Favorites bar.
It’s easy to get stuck in a bit of a rut, browsing the same sites all the time. In IE8 we make it easier to find sites you might like. Once you turn on Suggested Sites, IE looks at what sites you visit and then offers recommendations of other similar or related sites, right from the Favorites Bar.
If you don’t have Suggested Sites on already, try it out by going to the Favorites Center and clicking on the “Turn on Suggested Sites” button at the bottom of the menu.
These features give you quick access to your services without having to leave the current webpage, making it faster and easier to browse the web. We’ll be blogging about the details of these features as well as how sites can enable these services in the next few weeks, so stay tuned!