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Google Patents a Tab Assassin

By - Source: USPTO | B 33 comments

Google is working to further improve the tab management in its web browser.

The USPTO just granted the company a "tab assassin" patent, which sounds more dramatic than it really is, but is designed to help users manage their open tabs.

According to the patent, which was filed in September 2011, the tab assassin would automatically shut down tabs that fall below a certain tab usage threshold. That threshold can be  defined via "a period of time or an amount of activity". If a predefined or user-activity adjusted threshold is met, the tab assassin would automatically remove the tab. However, the patent also covers a "stored tab repository [that] may store information about the automatically removed tabs so that the removed tabs can be restored."

The activity level may be rather difficult to determine, since some tabs may simply be running in the background as part of a standard workspace. Google's idea to figure out whether a tab is significant or not includes the "viewing time of a tab", and comparing the "viewing time of each tab with a tab viewing threshold time and pass the tabs that have times that do not exceed the threshold to [the] tab assassin or removal." The system would also allow the user to set a period of time over which a tab would not be killed.

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  • 35 Hide
    mpdugas , January 1, 2013 9:09 AM
    A solution to a non-existent problem.
  • 22 Hide
    Anonymous , January 1, 2013 10:21 AM
    As a software developer myself, I'm dissapointed in Google for patenting something so stupid, trivial and obvious and thereby contributing to the litigation stupidity that's ruining the software industry... but then again it's probably necessary to patent dirt, air and water when your competition includes Microsoft and Apple, so I'll still give Google a pass for all that they contribute to open source.
  • 19 Hide
    Hellbound , January 1, 2013 9:49 AM
    The Tabinator
Other Comments
  • 17 Hide
    Darkerson , January 1, 2013 9:06 AM
    Mildly more interesting and useful than the new apple sim card holder/ejector thingie patent.
  • 35 Hide
    mpdugas , January 1, 2013 9:09 AM
    A solution to a non-existent problem.
  • 11 Hide
    EzioAs , January 1, 2013 9:26 AM
    scary name for a patent
  • 19 Hide
    Hellbound , January 1, 2013 9:49 AM
    The Tabinator
  • 22 Hide
    Anonymous , January 1, 2013 10:21 AM
    As a software developer myself, I'm dissapointed in Google for patenting something so stupid, trivial and obvious and thereby contributing to the litigation stupidity that's ruining the software industry... but then again it's probably necessary to patent dirt, air and water when your competition includes Microsoft and Apple, so I'll still give Google a pass for all that they contribute to open source.
  • 6 Hide
    trumpeter1994 , January 1, 2013 10:31 AM
    Quote:
    According to the patent, which was filed in September 2011, the tab assassin would automatically shut down tabs that fall below a certain tab usage threshold. That threshold can be defined via "a period of time or an amount of activity".

    Yea I can see that really annoying to me on a secondary monitor If I have something open and I'm just using it for reference as opposed to messing with it.
  • 2 Hide
    azraa , January 1, 2013 10:41 AM
    Totally agree with doucheveloper
  • 6 Hide
    smuggl3r , January 1, 2013 11:22 AM
    The idea of the patent is stupid. Leave my tabs alone!
  • -5 Hide
    in_the_loop , January 1, 2013 11:25 AM
    mpdugasA solution to a non-existent problem.


    I disagree.
    Chrome use an insane amount of memory when you have a lot of tabs open.
    Remember that each tab gets its own process and dedicated memory (whcih also makes Chrome more stable since it is the only thing crashing)
    It is very easy to exceed 2 GB of memory usage with many tabs open i chrome (especially withy youtube sessions with multiple tabs).
    On a laptop with 2-3 Gigs of memory that is making it crawl really slowly.
    In fact, it is the reason for me not using chrome at all on my laptop and ujse firefox instead.

    (I use Chrome on my desktop though which has plenty of memory).

    And there are plugins that adress this problem so there is a demand for it, but these plug-ins work very poorly, so it is a good thing that google is adressing this!

    They wouldn't do it if it wasn't needed, and it is, since the plugs works so poorly and many still use computers with too little memory in them!
  • 6 Hide
    cTs Corvette , January 1, 2013 12:07 PM
    in_the_loopI disagree. Chrome use an insane amount of memory when you have a lot of tabs open.


    Then the solution would be "don't open so many tabs." There's this cool feature built into the tabs in Chrome, maybe you've never noticed it, but each open tab has an "x" on the right side of it. If you click it, the tab closes.

    Personally, I think they should call it the "Tab Nanny" instead. "Tab assassin" sounds like something cool instead of something to pacify the people who are too lazy to click an x.
  • 6 Hide
    Pherule , January 1, 2013 1:03 PM
    If I have tabs open they're open for a reason. If I'm done with them I will manually close them.

    I'm sure Firefox already has this functionality with an extension, so Google trying to patent something that already exists is utter crud.

    Hey Chrome developers, I have an idea! Make the --single-process command switch work again. Multi-process browsers are no good to me until I get 32GB memory and a 64-bit OS.
  • 0 Hide
    blazorthon , January 1, 2013 1:56 PM
    cTs CorvetteThen the solution would be "don't open so many tabs." There's this cool feature built into the tabs in Chrome, maybe you've never noticed it, but each open tab has an "x" on the right side of it. If you click it, the tab closes. Personally, I think they should call it the "Tab Nanny" instead. "Tab assassin" sounds like something cool instead of something to pacify the people who are too lazy to click an x.


    Not everyone always has that option. I often use a few dozen tabs that I have to flip through for some things and on my laptop with only 2GB of RAM, I really have to watch my memory usage. Instead of closing tabs, I even occasionally kill their process through the task manager if I'm not using them now, but will use them soon and need more memory right now.

    PheruleIf I have tabs open they're open for a reason. If I'm done with them I will manually close them.I'm sure Firefox already has this functionality with an extension, so Google trying to patent something that already exists is utter crud.Hey Chrome developers, I have an idea! Make the --single-process command switch work again. Multi-process browsers are no good to me until I get 32GB memory and a 64-bit OS.


    I could be wrong, but I don't recall Firefox (even through third party extensions) having this feature. However, Firefox doesn't need it, so that's not a major loss.

    in_the_loopI disagree. Chrome use an insane amount of memory when you have a lot of tabs open. Remember that each tab gets its own process and dedicated memory (whcih also makes Chrome more stable since it is the only thing crashing)It is very easy to exceed 2 GB of memory usage with many tabs open i chrome (especially withy youtube sessions with multiple tabs).On a laptop with 2-3 Gigs of memory that is making it crawl really slowly.In fact, it is the reason for me not using chrome at all on my laptop and ujse firefox instead.(I use Chrome on my desktop though which has plenty of memory).And there are plugins that adress this problem so there is a demand for it, but these plug-ins work very poorly, so it is a good thing that google is adressing this!They wouldn't do it if it wasn't needed, and it is, since the plugs works so poorly and many still use computers with too little memory in them!


    Actually, Chrome does not give each tab its own process, but gives tab groups their own processes (not even always related tabs, sometimes it just seems to group tabs randomly into processes). It's not quite the same.
  • 0 Hide
    tobalaz , January 1, 2013 2:01 PM
    Maybe they'd rather just chase after a stupid patent before Apple pattens the vague idea then tries to sue them for it?
  • 0 Hide
    srap , January 1, 2013 2:02 PM
    PheruleI'm sure Firefox already has this functionality with an extension, so Google trying to patent something that already exists is utter crud.

    Add-on developers wouldn't come up with something so radical, one has to be a patient troll to think up something like this.
    The closest thing to this are addons that first suspend the tab, then unload it from the memory.
  • -2 Hide
    techpm , January 1, 2013 2:09 PM
    Hey Google, this is called paging. First implementation circa 1962 at the University of Manchester.
  • 0 Hide
    cTs Corvette , January 1, 2013 2:16 PM
    blazorthonNot everyone always has that option. I often use a few dozen tabs that I have to flip through for some things and on my laptop with only 2GB of RAM, I really have to watch my memory usage. Instead of closing tabs, I even occasionally kill their process through the task manager if I'm not using them now, but will use them soon and need more memory right now.


    But the whole point of this isn't managing memory from active tabs you are using/flipping through, it's killing off open tabs that you aren't using that are tying up resources. Hence my thoughts that this is unnecessary because if it's been unused long enough for tab assassin to have killed it, you could have done the same thing yourself.
  • 0 Hide
    cookoy , January 1, 2013 2:39 PM
    the quality of so-called innovation being patented is going downhill
  • 0 Hide
    blazorthon , January 1, 2013 3:11 PM
    cTs CorvetteBut the whole point of this isn't managing memory from active tabs you are using/flipping through, it's killing off open tabs that you aren't using that are tying up resources. Hence my thoughts that this is unnecessary because if it's been unused long enough for tab assassin to have killed it, you could have done the same thing yourself.


    Actually, I think that it falls under the last part of what you quoted from me where I occasionally kill the process of some tabs that I don't want closed, but can't afford the memory to keep them open. Also, I can't always kill the process because Chrome and Chromium based browsers have this annoying knack for grouping old tabs with tabs that I'm using. If this new feature can move them around and kill what doesn't need to be running without closing their tabs and without affecting what I do want to still be running, it could help me quite a bit.

    Perhaps that I can benefit from the feature makes me somewhat biased towards it, but even if I didn't benefit from it, it still seems like a decent idea. I'm not sure if it's worth patenting it, but if some other company patented it, then Google wouldn't be able to legally use the feature.
  • 3 Hide
    m32 , January 1, 2013 3:14 PM
    Close your tabs if you don't need them. That is all....
  • 5 Hide
    voiidwulf , January 1, 2013 3:30 PM
    They better have a way to disable this. I often have game guides or tutorials of various kinds open when I'm doing things, and I don't want them closing after 5 minutes or something. I only leave tabs open that I need open.
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