App of the Week: Awesome New Tab Page

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Name: Awesome New Tab Page

Platform: Google Chrome

Price: Free

Mission: Enhance your New Tab page with ultimate customizability and power.

Clog rating: Clog-Rating-5

“Awesome, like you.”

While the tagline is definitely high in flattery, the product certainly delivers. It falls into a category of extensions that people often overlook — among ad blocking and mail checking technology — but an apt new tab display is considered to be imperative to a seamless browsing experience. This iteration beat out other new tab and popular speed dials for three reasons — practicality, customizability and beauty.

If Google Chrome has a fault, it would most definitely be the bland, irritating display that comes up every time you hit Ctrl+T. You have to choose between the apps you’ve downloaded or thumbnails of your most perused websites. ANTB, as we’ll append it from here on out, combines just about everything you would need from your browser into one navigable nine-by-three grid. There is a grid space taken up by Google, which has small icons that directly link you to every Google App created — most notably Calendar, Gmail, Drive, Play, YouTube and Plus, in addition to the ineffable Search. Yet another two panels are taken up by a list of your open tabs, and if you’re one of those people that likes to keep approximately 57 tabs open concurrently, this section is a godsend that allows you to directly close those pages or pin them to the left of your browser screen. And these only take up a combined four of your 27 available panels — the rest can be hyperlinks to other webpages. The left sidebar may seem diminutive but has lots more important features: a compact apps screen and a list of your recently closed tabs are two of many.

Also hanging onto that sidebar is a lock button, which with a single click transforms your tab into a moving group of squares and rectangles — you can drag around each panel to wherever you’d like. Since all 27 panels aren’t visible on the screen at once, your mouse’s scrolling wheel serves as a horizontal scroll to access all of the panels. Moreover, you can add and download widgets that take up varying amounts of space and serve different functions, making the app as customizable as an Android home screen. Our favorites were the mail checker that displays unread email right in the new tab page, a serviceable calculator and an equivalent to Sticky Notes. The wrench provides easy access to the extension’s settings, instead of making someone navigate through the labyrinthine chrome menu and go to the general extension page. The settings allow users to auto-hide the sidebar, show bookmarks, choose a background image and save arrangements of panels and widgets, making for a wholly interactive experience.

Lastly, we stumble onto the sexiness factor. It adopts the refreshing Metro look popularized by Windows 8, and while replacing the classic start menu doomed that operating system, replacing the new tab page reinvigorates Chrome and ensures a quicker and easier browsing experience — especially for those using Chrome on a tablet or a touch-screen notebook. It has a modernized, sleek feel that easily beats out the boring default white of Chrome. Being able to add your own background picture is a plus for those who are especially vain or artistic.

In all, it’s a must-have and definitely an extension that patches up one of the few holes Chrome had to begin with. With a five clog rating, be sure to grab it from the Web Store.

Contact Uday at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @mehtakid.