• Firefox engineers have released a brand new version of Firefox (available in nightly and aurora buildes at this time) featuring the long promised Australis user interface. The official Mozilla UX blog says that the new design will follow the 80-20-2 principle for design that says the interface will put all the major features that most people 80% use at the forefront, followed by what remaining 2% would use. I went to Firefox Aurora channel and downloaded the latest build for OSX Maverics. Here are my first impressions.

    I'm a Chrome user and it's been my default web browser since last several months. When I fired up the latest Firefox, I for once thought I had opened Chrome! It could be because the default appearance of the new Aurora, IMHO, seems to be inspired by Chrome. The first thing you will notice is that the tabs are no longer sharp-edged. Instead, they're more curvy and I must say they looks a lot prettier than earlier design of Firefox. Does the Australis actually offers 80-20-2 feature set? Let's find out.


    Notice that the Firefox design team has been focused on totally removing the stuff that you don't always use. The 'Forward' button has been removed from the interface and it only appears when you actually 'can use it'. That is, if will need a forward button ONLY when you've browsed two pages and have gone back. The forward button will only show up when you hover your mouse cursor on the back button. I must say this is an interesting feature and it has allowed the UI team save up some space for the URL bar; which I believe is the most important section of the browser. The URL bar retains most of its functionality from earlier versions and if you enter keywords in it and hit enter - it will search those keywords in your default search engine (customisable from browser options page).

    Then there are buttons to show the downloads (an important button I shouldn't have to struggle to find) and a quick 'Home' button. The home button can be configured to take you to any website of your choice or simply load a blank page. It's followed by a 'favorites' button that helps you load your bookmars and save them in the browser preference (these can be synched across various installations of Firefox - on your laptop, PC, Mac, Mobiles and Tablets).

    The beta test version has a feedback button which does not appear in the gold release. The last button the UI is a stack that opens up more options. Here's a video that describes the new australis interface -

    Does the new interface make me want to go back to Firefox as default browser? I don't know. I think it's just too early to comment. I haven't considered load times and memory footprints in this review because it's a UX review and the final version wil always include several changes which will affect both. So more about it in a separate post. If you are an early adopter like me, go download the latest nightly and post your reviews here.
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