Mozilla’s Firefox will soon see a unified avatar across mobile, tablet and desktop. Videep Vijay Kumar has the details
Firefox might have been lagging behind in the browser evolution race, but all of that will soon change with Mozilla’s latest UI for the browser codenamed “Australis.” In what seems like several steps in all the right directions, Firefox will soon see a unified avatar across platforms, be it desktop, mobile or tablet, and if the ‘Nightly’ desktop and Android builds (preview version of Firefox used for testing) of the browser are any indication, we’re all set for an intuitive, clutter-free experience.
The overhauled interface sees Firefox finally take a step into the next generation of visual design, with a cleaner overall look. The first big change comes in the form of tab design. Tabs now hang higher up than before in order not to invade into browsing space, resulting in more real estate for the web experience itself. Tab separators are now entirely non-intrusive (in fact, they’re barely visible), while the tabs themselves feature curved edges that give them a nice visual appeal. Highlighted tabs now seem to ‘pop out’ a little bit into the foreground, while your other inactive tabs blend into the background, making room for browser themes which look less incongruous than before. Lighter themes look much nicer in the new interface thanks to the lack of tab separators and clutter of visual elements that we’ve seen before. You can pin tabs as well, and while the feature was available in previous builds, the appearance of pinned tabs has changed — you will now only see their favicons (which take up much less space than full-sized tabs).
Click on the menu button (now signified by the ubiquitous 3 horizontal lines icon) and you’ll be greeted by a grid-inspired interface with a variety of default tools such as ‘print’, ‘new tab’, ‘full screen’, ‘find’ and more. There’s also a ‘customize’ option which will let you decide what tools appear in the menu — you can expect the stock set of tools to be supplemented by more in the coming months. The grid design (albeit without grid separators!) is pleasing to the eye, while the design of the icons is able to give a very good sense of their functions. However, it is a little disappointing that the ‘options’ tool brings up the familiar, completely-confusing-to-the-non-power-user set of settings screens. Browser options screen is confusing across the board (Chrome included), and the visually overhauled Australis could have been the browser that made browser settings more accessible to the average user.
Further clutter removal has been achieved with the elimination of the ‘forward’ button — it appears only when you’ve actually moved ‘back’ on a page, while a nice little ‘downloads’ widget now transforms into a dynamic progress bar/icon when not open (you can still view all your downloads like you’ve been used to). Australis on desktop also takes visual cues from the operating system on which it is running, and as a result, looks more in sync with the OS rather than a ‘one size fits all’ browser. While we wait for the mobile, tablet and final desktop versions of the browser, you can currently download the test build featuring the new Australis interface by downloading Firefox Nightly. An Android version (.apk file) is also available at that URL.