“Maybe we shouldn’t even call it a browser anymore,” Mozilla’s VP of Firefox engineering Jonathan Nightingale told me a few days ago. “‘Browser’ is really an antiquated word. People don’t really browse all that much anymore.” Instead, he argues, we now mostly use our browsers to access sophisticated web apps, web-based productivity tools and social networks.
For browser developers, this means they have to start to rethink what their browsers should look like now that usage patterns have changed and that the majority of users have become pretty experienced Internet (and browser) users.
Australis: Simplicity Through Curvy Tabs
The project that has been guiding Mozilla’s exploration of what a modern browser should look like is Australis (because Mozilla apparently likes to name projects after star systems) and the fruits of this project will soon find their way into the Firefox release channels, starting with Nightly once it hits version 25 soon. After that, it will make its way through the usual release channels, though Nightingale told me that the team may hold it back from the stable channel a bit longer to ensure that everything works smoothly.
If you feel really adventurous, you can already install a version of Firefox from Mozilla’s relatively obscure UX branch and test it in its current state (but don’t blame us if it crashes a lot or shreds your hard drive).