Firefox premieres new UI look in nightly build

When it comes to modern browser design, it seems, all roads lead to Chrome. Mozilla developer Jared Wein has posted an early build of Firefox featuring the revamped Australis user-interface design, and the build looks awfully similar to Google’s browser. Here’s the new nightly rendering TR:

…and, just for reference, here’s the latest version of Chrome with the same tab layout:

The new Firefox design seems to blend background tabs completely into the window frame—unless, that is, the mouse cursor is hovering over them (as it is on the left-most tab in that screenshot). Still, the tabs-on-top layout with curved tabs is clearly inspired by Google’s design, which has stayed largely unchanged since the first public Chrome beta came out four years ago.

Judged on its own, though, I’d say the new Firefox "Australis" interface style does look good, and I look forward to Mozilla polishing it up and integrating it in main Firefox releases. I think the clean, smooth lines work better than the more rigid, rectangular ones of the current design. There’s more where that came from, too.

Comments closed
    • GatoRat
    • 7 years ago

    I think it looks like crap. What is this absurd obsession with large round back buttons? Once again, we see changes because they can be made, not because there is any demand to make them. I’d rather the developers work on stability issues.

    • Wirko
    • 7 years ago

    Dear Mozilla, why don’t you rather copy from the best and hide that useless Home button, as Opera has done?

      • The Dark One
      • 7 years ago

      Considering the work they’re putting into the the thumbnail previews in New Tabs, the home page seems like it’s on its way out.

      • Rand
      • 7 years ago

      Better yet, why not just allow us to create any buttons we want and place them wherever we want, and remove any buttons we want?
      THAT is an Opera feature other browsers should adopt.

      I know exactly what buttons I need and where I want them placed and under what conditions I want them visible, let me create buttons, optionally hide buttons under certain conditions and place buttons on multiple toolbars in any place I care to.

      I know what suits me better then Mozilla does. Give the power users full control.

    • shaurz
    • 7 years ago

    Oh dear, not another UI overhaul. Please make it stop.

    • Bensam123
    • 7 years ago

    And the homogenization continues. It’s amazing how this plagues every facet of life. So many people think they need to copy the cool kids to be a cool kid, but really being cool is all about doing your own thing and doing it well.

    This is why I still use and respect Opera above all the other web browsers. They still keep chugging away at their own thing and doing it quite well. Mozilla have more faith in yourself.

      • Rand
      • 7 years ago

      Opera has been started to copy Chrome pretty heavily in the past year and have begun changing existing implementations of features to copy Chrome’s even when that change is all but indisputably negative.
      They’ve already announced their ripping out voice/most toolbars/icon resizing options/colour schemes, and deleting all existing skins unless you port them to the new platform (actual development support has already ceased) in favour of Chrome style themes.

      I use/love Opera, but their chasing Chrome as hard if not harder then Mozilla IMO.

      • Anonymous Coward
      • 7 years ago

      Browsers are well on their way to being interchangeable and invisible. No need to connect that trend to the growing global monoculture.

    • bender
    • 7 years ago

    I wonder how differently this discussion would be turning out if that was a picture of Safari instead of Chrome…

    I noticed this article didn’t start with: Google makes the best browser interface in the world. And finish with: God give thanks to our patent system, hopefully other browser makers will start doing something original for once.

      • Anonymous Coward
      • 7 years ago

      Are there patents involved here?

        • HisDivineOrder
        • 7 years ago

        That’s the point. Google didn’t try to patent the crap out of obvious evolutions of UI’s. Apple does. Where Google leads, they don’t go after others in the courts for ideas everyone knows are obvious or evolutions (black/silver rectangular shaped tablets with metal backs, reducing CPU power usage when a mobile device is idle, etc). Apple does.

        Hence, there are no patents involved here. If Apple had made Chrome, anyone trying to copy it would be subject to immediate C&D letters and Apple PR statements saying, “We can’t stand by while others use ideas we came up with to make money. We stand on no one else’s shoulders. We came up with everything all on our own in a vacuum! Btw, that statement is also patented, so no one can use it without full authorization from Apple. PS: you won’t get any authorization.”

        Think different. Just don’t think different like us. Not even remotely.

    • crabjokeman
    • 7 years ago

    Sigh… Mozilla, stop trying to make Firefox equal Chrome! If I wanted something that looked like Chrome, I would use Chrome.

    Can I still put the tabs below the search bar? Can I have my menu bar back? (I have a large screen and would gladly trade a few pixels for it).

      • Corrado
      • 7 years ago

      Yes and yes are the answers to your questions. It is completely configurable with a few clicks.

        • The Wanderer
        • 7 years ago

        How configurable?

        That is, can you actually restore the previous UI layout (and other details such as skin) entirely, if you want to?

          • rrr
          • 7 years ago

          Yes, in fact I’m using FF with that configuration as we speak.

            • The Wanderer
            • 7 years ago

            Are you doing it in the “early build” with the revised default UI? Or in existing, released Firefox?

            I know it can be done in the released versions of Firefox (to within some approximation, anyway) – I’m running one myself at the moment, as a matter of fact. I’m concerned about whether or not I’ll be able to revert the so-called “improvements” in their revamped UI without having to remain at an older version.

      • BobbinThreadbare
      • 7 years ago

      You can always press ALT to temporarily show the menu bar.

      • WaltC
      • 7 years ago

      I prefer Firefox, too. Chrome is too “erratic,” for me–I always feel like the browser GUI is “all over the place” for some reason–entirely subjective analysis…;) I also loathe Chrome’s updater because I cannot control it, and it starts with Windows whether I like it or not, and that classifies it almost as malware! Amputate it from the start-up sequence in windows and upon reboot, like malware, it’s right back there and turned on. No like. Uninstalling Chrome is the only way to get rid of it. I also don’t like how Google’s search engine inserts services in Win7 to update the search engine–I haven’t yet tried to turn those off to see what might happen. I don’t know what Google has against people updating their own software when they feel like it as opposed to when it’s convenient for Google. Bing has been my default search engine since Bing day one.

      Ff is now at version 13.01 (release channel) and I really like the frequent releases for the browser as I think it allows them to tweak the security aspect of some things on a monthly basis, which can only harden things for better overall browser security.

      But even in the current version of Ff, hit F11–and the minimalist, Chrome look is there–except it is called “full screen” as it was called for many years before Chrome was a gleam in Google’s eye. Hit F11 again and everything comes back.

    • grantmeaname
    • 7 years ago

    [quote=”Cyril”<]all roads lead to Chrome[/quote<] Pun of the year award goes to Cyril.

    • Ryhadar
    • 7 years ago

    I was alright with the UI changes in Firefox 4, but almost every tiny UI change since then I’ve been bothered by.

    I’m just glad they’ve mostly been cosmetic and they’ve still kept the search bar.

    • jdaven
    • 7 years ago

    I haven’t thought this completely through but I kinda wish that Google would buy the Mozilla foundation and make the best web browser and email client ever.

      • indeego
      • 7 years ago

      They currently make neither, so how could they do that?

        • BobbinThreadbare
        • 7 years ago

        I think he means Google adding their resources to what the Mozilla Foundation has made would become the greatest.

    • kvndoom
    • 7 years ago

    Ugh why must everything else look like Chrome? I don’t like it (at all) or use it (very much), but I seem to be forcibly reminded of it even when I try to avoid it! 😛

    • GasBandit
    • 7 years ago

    The most important comparison between the two, to me, is how they perform on old XP machines with 2 or even 1 gig of ram. Chrome doesn’t play nice with that.

      • indeego
      • 7 years ago

      [url<]http://lifehacker.com/5917714/browser-speed-tests-chrome-19-firefox-13-internet-explorer-9-and-opera-12[/url<] No comment, other than I wouldn't use a browser without certain add-ons, and Firefox (or waterfox) still rules the day with the quality of its add-ons versus the other browsers I've tested. I think Chrome is the best "standalone" browser for the generic user that never uses add-ons and just wants to browse. Also I don't think browser manufacturers should necessarily focus on low-memory usage for desktops, we have more than enough these days, and if a browser uses more memory and performs better because of it, then we should encourage that.

        • odizzido
        • 7 years ago

        For me both are important. When using my desktop ram usage isn’t too high on my list of things to care about.

        However when on my laptop with 2gigs of ram, it becomes very important. I often have to reload firefox on my laptop because of the piles of memory leaks it has which is fairly annoying. I’d use another browser, but they don’t work properly either and/or don’t have the plugin support I need.

        What would be nice is an option you could select to optimize for performance or memory usage. Or say how much ram you would prefer firefox to use so it can try to adjust to your specific needs.

      • Narishma
      • 7 years ago

      It plays nicely enough with my netbook, which has XP and 1GB of RAM.

      • Kurotetsu
      • 7 years ago

      Chrome performs extremely well on 2GB of RAM in my experience, but this is with Windows 7. I haven’t tried it on 1GB.

    • BobbinThreadbare
    • 7 years ago

    Looks like the only differences from the current version (14?) is that the tabs are rounded and the new tab button is at the end of the tabs instead of all the way on the right.

      • Stargazer
      • 7 years ago

      I don’t like it when UI elements change location based on irrelevant conditions. Why should the procedure for opening up a new tab depend on how many tabs I currently have open?

        • BobbinThreadbare
        • 7 years ago

        Me either. I still don’t like tabs not going to the end of the list.

          • The Wanderer
          • 7 years ago

          Fortunately, that’s configurable.

          browser.tabs.insertRelatedAfterCurrent is the about:config pref; set it to false, and new tabs will appear at the far end of the list again.

        • The Wanderer
        • 7 years ago

        I go a bit further than that: I don’t like it when UI elements change location for any reason other than that I explicitly told them to.

        • swiffer
        • 7 years ago

        Ctrl+T

          • Wirko
          • 7 years ago

          Or double click on the empty part of the tab bar (I hope it still works).

          • BobbinThreadbare
          • 7 years ago

          You can ctrl-t without a button moving all over the place.

          • Stargazer
          • 7 years ago

          That’s what I use to open up new tabs, but so far the key combination has not also been able to remove my general distaste for ambulatory UI elements. 🙂

    • flip-mode
    • 7 years ago

    So many Firefox news posts but never anything about Thunderbird (so far as I can recall). Not to say there’s anything wrong with that but it seems slightly odd.

      • bthylafh
      • 7 years ago

      Fewer people use email clients these days; it’s more common to simply use a webmail interface. We’re switching to Zimbra over here, away from T-bird and Outlook.

        • lilbuddhaman
        • 7 years ago

        There isn’t a single webmail interface I truly like.

        Coworker uses AOL one (don’t ask me why, i dunno) – absolute Junk
        Yahoo mail old – bad, but useable
        Yahoo mail new – Slow, delayed, junk, wasted screen space
        Gmail – Fast but weird functionality, lack of defined lines, the Reply button looks extremely similar to the back button, copious amounts of wasted screen space
        Outlook web access (at least the one my work uses, dunno version) – Poor functionality, slow, useable

        p.s. I’ve said this a dozen times, yet people deny it every time i mention it, but both java and html5 implementations of internet content is awful. CONSTANTLY having to wait on slight delays, weird menu behavior, (do I click it? do I wait for it change while I hover? Does it have right click functionality? OH GREAT NEW FORMS OF POPUPS!), Absolutely basic functions become annoying. This is on multiple systems, multiple browsers. Want a great example of this? Anything on the gawker network since their last web redesign. God awful. Not to mention the new trend of having content split up into 40 pages of a “slideshow”, or reviews split into 15 pages with only a paragraph of text + one image per page.

        /rant

          • indeego
          • 7 years ago

          I agree 100% with what you say. Going from Outlook at work to occasional use in my browser of gmail is just horrible. Gmail mobile interface? What a [u<]complete[/u<] joke. I was just looking for an attachment in my Droid gmail client and it easily took 1 minute, because the icon to get the attachment is at the very bottom of the message, which was about 15 swipes down. Discard a draft? oh right it's in the settings menu, not on screen, how silly of me to assume. And the interface is constantly waiting to refresh, I can't imagine what it's like for people on 3G having to wait for every refresh back to their inbox. Their inbox! Why should people be waiting to access the very core of their mail?! Searches on gmail are slow across 60 MB of email. Searches in outlook across 15GB are instant and give me far more relevant information. I do like the single-key shortcuts of gmail. Yahoo fell to pieces a while back.

          • Wirko
          • 7 years ago

          Hotmail user here. Please add it to your list. I have to click on a message two or three times to open it (that’s in FF).

          Wouldn’t it be nice to have a plain old Win32 interface to our webmail accounts?

      • Usacomp2k3
      • 7 years ago

      I use Windows live mail for my mail.

    • albundy
    • 7 years ago

    they could have pushed the tabs higher to start right next to “Nightly”. space is still wasted.

      • Myrmecophagavir
      • 7 years ago

      Yes, that’s worse than the current version where the tabs are right up at the top.

        • Ryhadar
        • 7 years ago

        If you’re bothered by that, I have a fix for you: [url<]https://techreport.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=30&t=77744[/url<] It shouldn't take you longer than 2 minutes.

      • superjawes
      • 7 years ago

      Press F11, then.

      • Ryhadar
      • 7 years ago

      The window isn’t maximized so, presumably, when you maximize it it’ll bud the tabs right up towards the top.

        • Myrmecophagavir
        • 7 years ago

        Ah, nice. I didn’t realise Firefox moved the tabs in non-maximised windows – only ever use it maximised…

      • alienstorexxx
      • 7 years ago

      right click on the right side of the tabs bar. tick “tabs on top”. problem solved.

      [url<]http://i.imgur.com/8KMgu.png[/url<] you can see it there

        • indeego
        • 7 years ago

        Forbidden, so no we can’t.

        Edit: But I do something similar:
        [url<]http://i.imgur.com/4jmgA.png[/url<]

          • alienstorexxx
          • 7 years ago

          i uploaded to another host

            • indeego
            • 7 years ago

            imgur will work. You can hotlink without issues, for the most part.

            • alienstorexxx
            • 7 years ago

            [url<]http://i.imgur.com/8KMgu.png[/url<] 😉

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 7 years ago

    Very nice. Even if it looks just like Chrome, at least Firefox is adjustable. So it’s not a Chome rip off, but Chrome done right.

    After 21 different versions, since Google apparently can’t figure out how to shrink the absurdly long URL/search bar and put bookmark icons along side it, maybe I’ll go back to FF.

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