Firefox has done a little bit of grooming.
Mozilla, the group behind the decade-old browser, announced an overhaul to its aesthetic as well as internal workings on Tuesday. The update, called Firefox 29, comes on the heels of a slight downtick in usage, due to an increasingly mobile-first, Google-oriented population. Will this redesign bring more users back?
“We reimagined and redesigned Firefox to reflect how you use the Web today and we are excited to introduce many features including an elegant and fun design, new menu, customization mode and an enhanced Firefox Sync service powered by Firefox Accounts,” writes Mozilla in a blog post.
When you open the updated version of Firefox, the most obvious change is the browser’s look. The overall design looks noticeably like Google’s browser, Chrome, with rounded tabs and a simplified menu (though Jonathan Nightingale, Mozilla’s Firefox vice president says to TechCrunch, “Google didn’t invent simplicity ... We do lots of things differently.”)
One of the big features of this new browser is enhanced customization options. Users can choose which applications they would like to feature in the upper-right-hand corner of the toolbar, ranging from social media buttons such as Pinterest to basic functions such as bookmarks and an e-mail shortcut. It also has an “add-ons” manager where you can browse these options and install new applications as they become available.
Do you like to wander the Internet with several open tabs at a time? In Firefox’s new version, the dormant tabs will fade into the background, highlighting the current page you are browsing.
Under the hood, the updated browser has improved its “Firefox Accounts” feature. This is the option for users to sync their bookmarks and Internet activity for later use on another device. This feature was largely hidden on the old Firefox. This is likely to encourage more mobile use, which the browser has had issues with in the past due to faulty software.
This update comes on the heels of a wave of controversy for Mozilla. Earlier this month, the foundation's new CEO Brendan Eich resigned after only 15 days on the job when it came to light that he donated to the Proposition 8 movement that opposed gay marriage in California.
But Mozilla, who started Firefox with the philosophy of creating a secure and open-source browser, couldn’t have asked for better release timing in light of other browsers. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer has faced scrutiny this week after a major vulnerability was uncovered.
Ongoing browser analytics by NetMarketShare shows Firefox lost about 3 percent of its market share since last year. Its current market share is about 17 percent worldwide.