Firefox may be getting a very nice facelift soon.
Mozilla designer Stephen Horlander has posted a set of screenshots showing off what may be the the future of Firefox’s interface, and it includes some major changes that give it a more modern look. My first reaction: this looks a whole lot of Chrome. And my second reaction: that isn’t a bad thing at all. You can find the whole set right here.
To be clear, these are what Mozilla is calling “really early mockups”. They were presented internally at a company meeting last week, and the team hasn’t committed to when (or even if) they’ll be implementing the new UI.
That said, the mocks look solid and their reception seems to be positive so far, so don’t be surprised if you see these changes in action some time in the relatively near future — especially since Mozilla is now on a rapid-fire 18 week release schedule. So let’s take a look at what’s different.
The biggest change: no more search bar. One of Firefox’s trademark features, the dedicated search bar alongside the address bar, is gone — it’s been replaced by a field that presumably serves both functions, just like the one in Chrome. It’s also possible to enter Full Screen Mode, which merges a smaller version of this Awesome Bar and your tabs into a single line, further reducing the browser chrome and leaving more room for content.
Tabs are getting a rounder curve to them (in Firefox 5 they’re rectangular), which is very similar to the design in Chrome. But Firefox is actually improving on the design: only active tabs are presented with those rounded edges, whereas inactive tabs have very little chrome to them at all. This makes it easier to identify what you’re looking at, and it may make it easier to scan through them as well.
Other changes: there’s a new ‘functionality’ menu that includes common tasks (cut, copy, paste, new tab, etc, along with icons for app extensions. It looks good — and it also looks like it would be touch-friendly.