After nearly two years of sneak peeks and previews, Mozilla on Tuesday rolls out Firefox 29, the first official version of the open source browser with Mozilla's new Australis interface. "It’s not an interface adjustment or tweak. It’s not a bug fix. It’s a complete re-envisioning of Firefox’s user experience, and it’s been brewing for the past five years," Jennifer Morrow, senior user experience designer at Mozilla, wrote in a blog post on her personal site.
The new look borrows somewhat from Google Chrome, including rounded tabs and a menu icon in the upper right corner. (The image up top shows the old Firefox interface on the left side of the split, and the new Australis UI on the right.)
Nevertheless, the new browser still maintains a Mozilla-esque look with the oversized back button, a separate search box, and default menu options in the toolbar.
We've covered Mozilla's new design decisions previously, but here are the highlights:
- The Orange Firefox button is gone in Windows and replaced with a "hamburger" icon in the upper right corner
- Tabs are now rounded and only the current active tab is outlined
- The menu in the upper right corner is simpler and uses a drag-and-drop interface for easy customization
That last feature is perhaps the biggest change with Firefox 29. Now that the Windows 7-era orange menu button is gone, Firefox's menu uses large—dare I say touchable?—icons above the text.
This results in a streamlined default menu with only the basics available, such as the ability to open a new or private window, save a webpage, print, history, full screen mode, find in page, options, add-ons, and developer tools.
Anyone who wants to change the default menu can easily add or take away options by clicking the Customize option at the bottom of the menu. This takes you to a special tab where you can add options to the menu or the toolbar such as open file, email link, tab groups, or an RSS subscribe button. Drag-and-drop editing for the toolbar is a longstanding feature of Firefox, but the ability to edit the menu is new with Australis.
This tab also provides options to show or hide toolbars such as the bookmarks bar or show and hide the title bar at the top of the window. Anyone who prefers to have text menu options at the top of the window can still get them by right-clicking the main toolbar and selecting Menu bar from the contextual menu.
Firefox 29 is expected to be available Tuesday for download from Mozilla's site. Current Firefox users can force the update right now by clicking Help > About Firefox from the browser's main menu.