Mozilla's latest browser, Firefox 29, features the new Australis design, which adjusts the user interface, modernizing the look of tabs, menu layout, and toolbar. However, the new design also brings the pain of change: Users will have to adapt to rearrangements of core features.
New design: Firefox's new design is a bit Chrome-like, presenting menu options as large icons, similar to Chrome apps. The tabs have been cleaned up and look curvier and sleeker. Subtle animations make the Firefox experience slightly more interactive. For example, bookmarking a site triggers an animation of a star dropping into the bookmark icon.
Compatibility: Firefox 29 maintains compatibility with many older, popular extensions. The Australis interface has been around for a while for users who've been on the Beta and Aurora channels. Though many extensions are disabled by default, you'll find many old add-ons work with the new design.
Learning curve: You may be thrown off by the new UI. Things aren't where they used to be, which will likely cause problems for the millions of users who have become accustomed to a Firefox layout that hasn't changed much over a dozen versions.
Extension updates: Though many extensions work, some add-ons will likely break, especially toolbars and theme packs. Stable channel users will have to wait for newer versions of many add-ons to be rolled out in the coming months. Because Australis delivers a major visual overhaul, many themes will break and need updating to reflect the new interface.
Mozilla has given its interface an impressive redesign, making Firefox a modern experience across all platforms, including mobile. Mozilla argues that the visual upgrades and interface changes will ultimately outweigh the near-term hiccups that users will face. Though Australis begins paving the way for Firefox OS, only time will tell how receptive users will be. That said, everything under the hood is still the Firefox we know and love: an open-source beast of a browser that champions customization and speedy load times.
Mozilla Firefox is a fast, full-featured Web browser. Firefox includes pop-up blocking, tab-browsing, integrated Google search, simplified privacy controls, a streamlined browser window that shows you more of the page than any other browser and a number of additional features that work with you to help you get the most out of your time online.
What's new in this version:
- Sidebars button in browser chrome enables faster access to social, bookmark, & history sidebars
- Mac OS X command-E sets find term to selected text
- Support for GStreamer 1.0
- Disallow calling WebIDL constructors as functions on the web
- With the exception of those bundled inside an extension or ones that are whitelisted, plugins will no longer be activated by default (see blog post) ... See all new features »