Are browsers really just used to surf the net anymore? They’re used now to access web apps, have deep social network integration and more. So, while the browser’s functionalities have changed, how can the design remain stagnant? Mozilla is first in line to embrace change. “Maybe we shouldn’t even call it a browser anymore,” Jonathan Nightingale, Mozilla’s Vice-President of Firefox Engineering told TechCrunch. “‘Browser’ is really an antiquated word. People don’t really browse all that much anymore.”

Mozilla has been working on a project called Australis, named after a star system, the company’s version of what the future of modern browsing could look like. You can expect to find parts of this product incorporated into Firefox release channels, starting with Nightly, as soon as it hits version 25. Australis will also make its way to the web through the usual release channels thereafter.

Chrome in Firefox, anyone?

Chrome in Firefox, anyone?

Looking suspiciously similar to Chrome, tabs in Australis are more rounded than in Google’s version of the browser. The search bar, download, home and menu button then are pretty much what they look like in Firefox currently. The cleaner, “more intuitive” design of the browser is part of what Nightingale says is a capable, yet simple browser.

Simplicity of design and customisation are the key points as far as Australis is concerned. The design makes sure that tabs and icons are non-intrusive while you’re surfing the internet. Unlike Chrome, tabs not in use currently will blend away into the background till you decide you need the again. Firefox will even move to a scrolling bar once you’ve reached the minimum width of tabs.

The theme is big on customisation too. Mozilla is working on letting you add way more tools than what Firefox offers currently. Australis may not land on stable channels till October at least, though. Nightingale says that today’s version of Firefox is already influenced by this project. It now features a combined stop/load/reload button as well as the download manager. Considering the fact that Mozilla is currently rolling out updates at a rapid pace, it may want to roll out some of Australis’ features with the current release, and can keep adding to Firefox with further releases. This means that while we could see Australis in the Nightly version of Firefox 25, the stable one might not have it at all. 

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