Mozilla has been quietly working on a new user interface for its Firefox web browser. According to a post on the Mozilla blog, the new Australis UI is now on display in the official Firefox Nightly channel. Mozilla says the interface is "not quite finished" and "needs more polished"—but it adds that what's there is "enough for intrepid users to have a solid day-to-day experience and help us finish Australis off."
At first glance, Australis looks pretty similar to Google's Chrome UI. The curved tabs, the menu at the top right, and even the toolbar icons look straight out of the Google browser. Mozilla sounds pretty proud of the new UI, though, judging by the sales pitch in its blog post:
1. It's the most beautiful and detail-obsessed iteration of Firefox's visual design yet: modern, clean, and comfortable.
2. More fundamentally, it's a streamlining and simplification of the default interface, to declutter and better focus on how people use a browser today.
3. Finally, it includes a new simple way to customize the browser and make it your own.
Part of the appeal of Australis is greater consistency across versions of Firefox for different platforms. The curved tabs are reminiscent of Firefox for Android as well as the Modern UI version of Firefox for Windows 8.
Honestly, I'm a little sad to see Firefox follow so closely in Chrome's footsteps. The current Firefox UI is hardly a masterpiece, but surely the Mozilla guys could have improved upon it without borrowing so heavily from Google. Oh well. Perhaps the final release won't look so Google-y.