A Firefox redesign is in the works, and don't you dare call it a "browser."
A Firefox redesign project is currently underway at Mozilla, titled Australis. Firefox release channels should see the results of this new and exciting project starting with Nightly once it hits version 25 shortly. Then the usual release channels will be employed, but the stable channel will be held off on until the Mozilla team knows that everything is working smoothly - the stable channel probably won't see Australis before October. A version of Firefox can be installed from Mozilla's UX branch, available for testing in its current condition, but there is a risk of crashing and hard-drive depletion, according to TechCrunch.
"Maybe we shouldn't even call it a browser anymore," Mozilla's Vice President of Firefox engineering Jonathan Nightingale told TechCrunch. "'Browser' is really an antiquated word." Nightingale maintains that people use browsers to access web applications, web-based productivity tools and social networks. "People don't really browse all that much anymore," he argues.
The Firefox redesign concept for Australis was to design a browser that is simpler to use than the current offering. The redesign team studied how and why people actually use their browsers, and then designed the user experience around the consumer's objectives. The Firefox redesign, according to Nightingale, is "cleaner and more intuitive." The Australis theme has rounded corners for tabs, and a three-bar icon to the right of the URL, and search boxes to bring up a drop-down customization and settings menu.
Even pre-redesign, the current Firefox version has elements from the Australis project. The combined stop/load/reload button in Firefox was a result of the design overhaul, as well as the download manager, and the fact that no "forward" button is displayed when there is no page to move forward to. The customization and tools menus have also seen the effect of Australis; the icons in a three-by-three arrangement and copy, select, and paste buttons that also serve to increase font sizes, for example.
The Australis Firefox redesign also comes with a slew of never-before-seen customization options to custom-tailor the look and feel of your browser. Sure, Mozilla currently does have a ton of options by way of customization, but the Firefox team doesn't think they are easy to find or "fun" to use.
The idea behind the Firefox's customization redesign is to get users to enjoy customizing their browsers, according to the way they use it. The customization options will also be made to be more obvious to the user, as unless users can find the features, of course, they could "just as well be left out," according to Mozilla's Gavin Sharp. The customization extends to the Firefox interface, where users can rearrange and remove almost all the individual browser components.
While we may see Australis in the nightlies of Firefox 25 soon, it may not be in the stable version of Firefox 25. The new Firefox redesign is sure to turn some heads and spark some debate, especially among those who already claim that it resembles Google Chrome a bit. But Mozilla is looking to the future, not only with the Firefox redesign, but also through tools like its Social API, OdinMonkey and asm.js.