Ars Technica had a chance to try out Mozilla's new Firefox UI for Android, and they were quite impressed. The new UI is aimed at smartphones, unlike the version that was released for Honeycomb tablet devices in September.
Firefox's experimental mobile branch, known as Birch, developed the new interface, which also involved some major architectural changes to the venerable browser. Although Ars Technica encountered a few issues with the current test version, the new UI is a drastic improvement over previous versions. Everything has been simplified and streamlined; tabs are managed with a simple menu accessed from an arrow to the left of the navigation bar, while the URL box, bookmarks, and history are hidden until you need them.
Functions like refresh and forward are tucked away in the native Android menu. Oddly enough, there is no back button; you'll have to use your phone's physical back button if you want to go back. And of course, it wouldn't be Firefox without those glorious extensions; the add-on interface will be accessed through an overflow menu and opened in a new tab, although it's not isn't quite working yet.
In the end, this looks like a promising new version of Firefox, and the slick new UI makes it quite attractive. And since it functions as a native widget now, Firefox will be able to boot up faster, something that was very noticeable previously, as well as having a smaller memory footprint.
Mozilla is looking for volunteers to help them test the software before rolling out a stable release. You can get more information on how to download at participate over at their website.
Images courtesy of Ars Technica