Meet the new Firefox: Australis user interface hits Firefox Nightly

Want to get a look at the future of Mozilla’s Firefox web browser for PCs? The developers of the open source web browser have been working on a dramatic overhaul of the user interface, and you can now check it out by downloading a nightly build of Firefox for Windows, Mac, or Linux.

Mozilla calls the new UI Australis, and if you’ve used Firefox on an Android phone or tablet recently, some of the elements should look familiar. Part of the goal is to provide a more unified experience across devices.

But the desktop version of Firefox maintains support for a wide range of plugins and gains a number of new customization options that helps set it apart from Firefox Mobile… or Google Chrome, for that matter.

Firefox Australis

On the one hand, Firefox has been looking more and more like Chrome over the last few years, with the disappearance of a dedicated menu bar and a move toward icons over text menus.

But even with the new Australis UI, Firefox is much more customizable than Chrome.  For instance, when you first run the browser you’ll notice that most of the menu items you don’t use very often are hiding behind a settings icon in the far right corner. But you can drag and drop any of those items onto the toolbar if you’d rather have them always available.

Under the hood, Mozilla says Australis also has a more extensible interface model which will help when it’s time to add new features while continuing to support browser add-ons and themes.

  • Joe

    As long as they don’t sacrifice features and options in the same of “unifying” the user experience. All too often, for other OS’s, applications, devices, etc., “unifying” or “enhancing” the experience means dumbing it down to the least common denominator (ie. a touch only device).

  • Michael Thompson

    While not directly related, I recently switched to Firefox for Android.
    Took a little getting used to but it’s been worth it.

    • Pa

      I wish I could but slashdot’s mobile site is not good and the desktop one is broken on Firefox for Android. Some text is too tiny. I don’t know if it’s slashdot optimizing for other mobile browsers or Firefox’s rendering. Other sites have similar problems. I’m sticking to Dolphin on Android and Firefox on the desktop.

    • Tsais

      Keep opening additional tabs without closing any till it stalls or crashes. Then do the same thing on various other browsers, and see which one can handle more tabs without choking or going down in flames.

      Then you will have found the most efficiently coded browser using up the least amount of resources for its work.

      • John

        No problems with 200 tabs open with Firefox 25 on Xubuntu 12.04.3. Can switch betwen them fine. Scrolling around is fine too. Not that I actually do that ever other than now to see how it goes.

        As for why I use Firefox over Chrome/Chromium, no objective reason really. I do use Chrome/Chromium for the newer PPAPI based Adobe Flash sometimes except I get pixelated/blocky videos in fullscreen mode while it’s okay in Firefox.

      • John

        Also, closing all the tabs except one brought back the memory to where it was when I first had only 1 tab open. So no memory leaks either.

      • John

        Also, the tab test on Chrome didn’t show any noticeable differences.

  • mini

    As long as Userstyle works the Firefox devs can move around in the UI how much they want, since I can always put things back into place anyway.

    • Tsais

      Every Software maker wants to be a fashion designer these days. Even those with disabilities, like Microsoft with its garishly colored tiles…

  • http://www.fanlesstech.com/ FanlessTech

    It looks good, minus the curved tabs of course.

  • Tsais

    Looks like Chrome. Hopefully its as lean and efficient as Chrome – and less crashy than the last 3 major releases. Firefox current version still fails at sand boxing flash, still fails at handling its memory once you get a few hundred tabs open.

  • Nitin Sawant

    cool

  • Conception

    Firefox. The browser that wants to be Chrome.

  • exzrael

    I really don’t care about the GUI as long as the browser supports all standards it should and shows websites as they are intended. Sure, a lovely looking browser is better then an ugly one if you use it for several hours a day – but it’s not the main reason for me when I make a choise.

    Lets hope Mozilla makes some very big changes under the hood and not just paint the outside in cool flames.

  • Skunky

    the new google chrome looks awesome.