Mozilla Firefox 'Australis' now available on Aurora testing channel

The next major update to Firefox, code named "Australis", has now graduated out of the Nightly testing channel and into the latest Aurora build. The new version, Firefox 29.0a2, is now available to download.

As we have reported before, the changes that will be made to Firefox via Australis will include a new user interface. In a post on the Mozilla blog, the company said:

Tabs have a new fluid and streamlined shape and non-active tabs blend into the background to make it faster for you to find and focus on the tab you want. A new menu contains the most popular features including copy, paste, zoom, as well as add-ons all in one spot with easy to identify visual icons.

As you can see from the image above, the UI looks very similar to the one employed by Google's Chrome browser. The Australis version of Firefox also allows for faster menu, tab bar and tool bar customization by just dragging the buttons and icons around.

In addition to the UI and customization changes, the new build on Aurora adds Firefox Accounts to the browser. It allows users to sign into a single account to bring their bookmarks, history, and any open tabs to any Firefox supported devices, including the mobile version of the browser and smartphones running FirefoxOS.

Mozilla has had a very busy week for news. It also launched the touch-based version of Firefox for Windows 8 to its beta channel this week and introduced plans for an Android Launcher that will be released in the near future.

Source: Mozilla

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Scar said,

Something tells me Australis will be postponed to Firefox 33.


Unless there are radical improvements by the time it's finalised for production release, then as far
as I'm concerned it can stay postponed permanently. In it's default state, Australis is a fugly mess.

Are they maintaining the separate search box to differentiate themselves from Chrome? I don't understand why it's still there!

horrible, if i wanted to use chrome or opera i would get them...

the idea of using firefox its to have the best customizable experience but they are forcing many things, so many of them wrong, the position of stop and reload button its just bad even google realize it and change it to its proper place in chrome.

i dont like tabs above i prefer status bar, i dislike filling of addons in my toolbars....

let me have the option to switch back to what it have before....

The only real issue I have with Austrails is I do not like how all the non selected Tabs are blended into the blue backround. They need to have more of a 3D look if you know what I mean. The old way was fine or how tabs look in Chrome and IE. I hope this is going to be fixed in future builds because right now I do not like how Tabs are displayed in Austrails build at all!!

For Christ sake, why do browsers have the urge to reinvent UIs with their weird "grid menus" and so on? Why do they have to be inconsistent with the operating system?

Okay.... tried it. How do I get the add-on bar tools visible? This seriously breaks a lot of add-ons that by default dump their stuff there instead of in the customize area.

Acer1 said,
Okay.... tried it. How do I get the add-on bar tools visible? This seriously breaks a lot of add-ons that by default dump their stuff there instead of in the customize area.

Addon bar is no more. You can place addon buttons in the navigation bar or in the new menu. The button of addons i use (stylish, greasemonkey, ABP) are still broken though.

Heartripper said,

Addon bar is no more. You can place addon buttons in the navigation bar or in the new menu. The button of addons i use (stylish, greasemonkey, ABP) are still broken though.

So then, they removed the status bar and now the add ons bar. It is great /s.

All I want to know is why with every new browser, the toolbars & interface take up MORE screen space? What about "less is better"?

Co-ords said,
All I want to know is why with every new browser, the toolbars & interface take up MORE screen space? What about "less is better"?

The image show the new aurora interface with the bookmark bar (optional) an an Alexa bar (removable)

Co-ords said,
All I want to know is why with every new browser, the toolbars & interface take up MORE screen space? What about "less is better"?

I'm guessing to make them easier for touch.

Co-ords said,

All I want to know is why with every new browser, the toolbars & interface
take up MORE screen space?


Errr no ... it's actually completely the opposite. Ever since Google Chrome came along, browsers
have been gradually dumbing down their GUIs. There's NO need for this on desktop systems
at all, unless you're using an ancient graphics card and a 15inch CRT stuck at 800x600.

DJGM said,

Errr no ... it's actually completely the opposite. Ever since Google Chrome came along, browsers
have been gradually dumbing down their GUIs. There's NO need for this on desktop systems
at all, unless you're using an ancient graphics card and a 15inch CRT stuck at 800x600.

oh stop, browser GUI's have not gotten "dumbed down", they've been streamlined.

It's not like you needs six toolbars worth of buttons to browse the web....

I mean CHRIST! what are you even talking about?!?

You know what.. let's see your browser, right now. I am imagining this bloated thing with all kinds of seedy add-on tool bars that you think are vital.

Lamp0 said,

oh stop, browser GUI's have not gotten "dumbed down", they've been streamlined.
It's not like you needs six toolbars worth of buttons to browse the web....
I mean CHRIST! what are you even talking about?!?

You know what.. let's see your browser, right now. I am imagining this bloated
thing with all kinds of seedy add-on tool bars that you think are vital.


Actually, my browser doesn't really support add-on toolbars as such, if you're referring to
the sort of toolbar that used to plague old installs of Internet Explorer several years ago.
The level of so-called "streamlining" these days is exactly as I described. Dumbing down.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term "dumbed down" means this . . .
"simplified so as to be intellectually undemanding and accessible to a wide audience"
http://www.oxforddictionaries....inition/english/dumbed-down

Sounds a bit like marketing speak, but describes it perfectly.


The basic layout of my browser is much like Firefox used to be before it reached v4.

Window Title Bar ... precisely the place where browser tabs should NOT be.
Standard Menu bar ... combined with a variation of the Firefox Add-on bar.
Back-Forward-Reload-Stop-Home --- URL Bar --- Activity indicator (throbber)
Bookmarks Bar ... my most commonly used web bookmarks in folders
Tabs Bar

Screengrab: http://snipurl.com/28kek5x

As for your other question. I don't know what Christ is talking about right now.

Edited by DJGM, Feb 11 2014, 1:53am :

Lots of UI annoyances with "Australis":

1) "Tabs on top" is all well and good, but there is no builtin option any more to have tabs below the address bar - you now have to use an extension to achieve this

2) No "Forward" button - again, you have to rely on an extension to bring back this functionality

3) Rounded tabs, whilst maybe they look nice mean that tabs take up a lot more width (and indeed height). If you're a power-user with many tabs open you now spend longer scrolling through tabs, and the visible height of actual page content is significantly reduced in "Australis"

Overall, not impressed!! - not because of the new UI changes themselves, but because they've removed a lot of flexibility to customize the layout how you want without now having to resort to using 3rd party extensions!

They did remove a lot of customization options, which is annoying, but your points 2) and 3) are not entirely correct:

2) The forward button is visible when there is a page to go forward to (they call it a conditional forward button, and it's been there before australis).

3) The tab bar is higher (not because of the rounded tabs though). Only the selected tab is wider because of the curve as background tabs do not have a curve unless hovered.

GreatMarkO said,
Lots of UI annoyances with "Australis":

2) No "Forward" button - again, you have to rely on an extension to bring back this functionality

The forward button is visible only when you actually have a page to go forward to.


3) Rounded tabs, whilst maybe they look nice mean that tabs take up a lot more width (and indeed height). If you're a power-user with many tabs open you now spend longer scrolling through tabs, and the visible height of actual page content is significantly reduced in "Australis"

I agree on this point. You can fix this with a userstyle. I made one if you need. http://userstyles.org/styles/9...firefox-metro-for-australis

I was in Aurora... I'm switching to Beta. If it's just a copy of Chrome, I don't want it.

(for those who want a squared Firefox theme for Windows 8, try FxOpera)

Too much vertical space is lost with Australis. Hopefully there will be a Firefox 28 theme to fall back on.

Just a little difference from last version and still no add-ons bar and instead of it, title bar switch button under "customize mode"... What the hell Mozilla?

Pulagatha said,

I tried it out. I hate it. I had everything set perfectly and this jigsawed the UI.


If they think Australis is meant to be an improvement, they are DEAD WRONG. It is utterly dreadful.
The customisation that Firefox was once famous for has been utterly ruined. I can't even put the
navigation buttons in the standard positions where they're meant to be.

Everything is in the wrong place, and cannot be corrected. Hopefully, full customisation should be
restored by the time the Australis UI is finalised. If not, then I'm NEVER using Firefox again. Ever.

Thankfully SeaMonkey, with the same codebase as Firefox, still has a sensible GUI.

Not a fan of it, been using the "traditional" layout since Netscape, but meh it may grow on me, we'll see, I'm not using the nightly channel anyway, sticking with beta. Meanwhile, there's an addon specifically to get the UI layout back to where it was, more or less. (Classic Theme Restorer.)

DJGM said,

If they think Australis is meant to be an improvement, they are DEAD WRONG. It is utterly dreadful.

They have done this so the desktop, phone and tablet versions of android all have the same U.I.

torrentthief said,

They have done this so the desktop, phone and tablet versions
of android all have the same U.I.


This "mobile UI on the desktop" mentality has got to stop. It's fine on touchscreen mobile devices
like tablets and smartphones, but on a standard desktop, especially if you have a large display
with an HD resolution or higher, it is neither needed or wanted.

Have not been following Firefox in a long time, so I do not know the release schedule. When exactly will this hit stable? Next month I am guessing?

Considering the change in the GUI, I cannot say its surprising. The developers have to fix their own Personas/Themes to work with the new version.

i_was_here said,
Considering the change in the GUI, I cannot say its surprising. The developers have to fix their own Personas/Themes to work with the new version.

It's been like this since before Australis. On Windows, using a persona doesn't change the window borders, and various other things around it.

It looks fine if the window is maximized, but when restored, it's simply ugly. I don't know if you can try it out for yourself to see what I mean.

Personas look fine in OSX though, and unsurprisingly that's all I ever see them use in their promotional videos or screenshots.

Can't say I'm a big fan of the UI overall, but then again I also do not really care for Firefox in general so I might be biased.

I'm sorry, What?

A lot of browsers need to go to tabs on top, which is pretty much the natural place to put them. Other than that, no.

ians18 said,
I'm sorry, What?

A lot of browsers need to go to tabs on top, which is pretty much the natural place to put them. Other than that, no.

Yeah, but those tabs, and the new layout... They're playing off Chrome's popularity.

ians18 said,
I'm sorry, What?

A lot of browsers need to go to tabs on top, which is pretty much the natural place to put them. Other than that, no.


Well IE managed to put tabs on top without looking like Chrome...wonder how they did that?

Dot Matrix said,

Yeah, but those tabs, and the new layout... They're playing off Chrome's popularity.

How dare they look at something that's popular and attempt to take what made it popular in the first place. I suppose we should be different for the sake of being different. That's better for end users, right?

FalseAgent said,

they are. and the address bar just happens to be in the same space.

IE's tabs are not on top (the desktop version) They are on the side next to the URL bar. On top means on top of the URL bar at the edge of the window. There is still a title bar at the top of IE's windows.