The wait is finally over. Mozilla has, after years of talk and previews, debuted Firefox 29, the first version of the browser with the new Australis interface.
The company is calling version 29 of its open source browser a “complete re-envisioning of Firefox’s user experience” — one that has been in the works for five years.
“This new Firefox, Firefox 29, was borne out of a series of incredible, detail-obsessed designers and engineers understanding that taking products from good to great requires more than a series of incremental improvements. Good can be achieved through incrementalism. Great requires, at times, overhaul,” wrote Jennifer Morrow, senior user experience designer at Mozilla, in a blog post.
“Making improvements here and there is often what user experience designers at an organization are expected to do: fix what’s broken, slightly improve what isn’t, and generally don’t get in the way of engineering effort. But, this method can only make an existing product slightly better, and the gaps it causes reveal themselves in time,” she added.
“A sinking ship can’t be patched endlessly when it needs a new hull. This is when user experience design is most effective: when it envisions the system as a whole. When it steps away from the trees and sees the forest holistically.”
Firefox, she said, “needed a new hull, and the bulk of that hull” has finally arrived.
The cosmetic changes, in some ways, mimic Google’s Chrome — such as rounded tabs and a menu icon in the upper right corner — but there are still a number of changes that are simply improvements on Firefox’s traditional look. An oversized back button, a separate search box and default menu options in the toolbar, for instance.
Other changes include:
• A Customize panel, which itself is customizable, displays the tools the user wants in a single click without cluttering the interface.
• Lightweight themes with a light interface overlay.
• The Orange Firefox button has been replaced with a hamburger icon in the upper right corner.
• The new rounded tabs are outlined when active.
• The menu in the upper right corner is easier to use with a drag-and-drop interface offering customization.
• No more orange menu button. In its place are large icons above the text.
For more info on version 29, or to download, go to the Mozilla website.