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article imageMozilla's new 'Firefox Photon' design revealed in mock-up

By James Walker     Apr 5, 2017 in Technology
Mozilla is working on a major overhaul of Firefox's interface that incorporates a more modern design and rectangular tab corners. It has been pictured for in a new mock-up showing the essential elements of the redecorated browser.
Firefox is beginning to show its age next to the ever-updating Google Chrome and new Microsoft Edge and Vivaldi browsers. Mozilla is working on a series of Firefox changes to bring it in line with the competition, both under and above the hood.
The company's new "Photon" design is a fresh take on the current Firefox look. The slightly flattened and noticeably more angular palette is distinctively new but also immediately recognisable as the Firefox of today. It's currently on track to arrive with Firefox 57 later this year, set to be the most significant release in many long months.
A UI mock-up published by the Firefox team this week shows how things are progressing. Photon's most notable changes are a revised address bar that's positioned in the centre of the interface, updated button styles and layouts and the removal of Firefox's curved tab corners. Tabs are now simple rectangles, matching Edge, Opera and Vivaldi.
Firefox 57  Photon  design mock-up
Firefox 57 'Photon' design mock-up
Mozilla has been moving a few buttons about, taking the refresh button over to the left of the address bar and adding a new ellipsis icon next to the favourites button. The start page shown in the screenshot also has a Firefox mascot in the top left corner which will display tips when you hover your mouse over it.
In general, Photon looks like a combination of the design languages used by Firefox's rivals. The light-themed colour palette and use of drop shadows is reminiscent of Chrome. The new arrangement of buttons on the left of the address bar and the rectangular tab strip clearly draws from Edge and Vivaldi.
Mozilla has previously released a handful of other mock-ups and videos showing different features of Firefox 57. The address bar has been enhanced, there's improved session restore functionality and  the bookmarks and downloads panes have been revised.
Beyond the look and feel of the browser, Firefox 57 will also debut a substantial rethinking of extensions. Firefox's traditional browser add-ons will no longer be supported or available as Mozilla pivots to focus on the new WebExtensions specification as the standard for writing plugins. Developers will need to make sure their extensions are compatible but once converted many more features will be available. Most popular extensions should be ported over but it's to be expected that many older and less used titles will end up unusable on the new release.
Firefox 57 should make it to Mozilla's early-access Aurora release channel in August, assuming everything in the development pipeline goes to plan. General consumers will receive the update later in the year, introducing the new extensions framework and UI design a few months before the holiday season.
More about Mozilla, Firefox, firefox 57, firefox photon, Web browsers
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