Firefox 4, which looks set to be released in November, was announced by Mike Beltzner, vice president of engineering for Firefox, in a Webcast earlier today: “Performance is a huge, huge, huge thing for us,” he said
“We created the performance story, and we’ve got to keep at it. Something UI designers have known for a long time is that the simpler an interface looks, the faster it will seem.
“The less the user has to take in with their eye, the quicker they can process it and the quicker the entire application will seem. So we’re actually looking at making our interface faster by changing the way it looks.”
To enable this Mozilla has said it plans to rid many of the “cluttreing” user interface controls. It will also aim to speed up users experience by improving navigation and adding a “switch to tab” tool for reducing the number of tabs and facilitating jumps between them.
Those wishing to go back to what they are doing can use the planned dedicated application tab, which will replace the existing Home button, and takes users back to frequently used services. There is also plans to give apps such as Gmail, Twitter and Facebook their own tabs.
And it’s also taking new technology on board. Requesting geolocation or other data through the browser will appear as bubbles specific to individual tabs, meaning you can continue to navigate around the browser without being locked down until you’ve answered.
A new permissions manager will also choose which information the browser can share with websites. This will include geolocation data, and the ability to access local storage – both key aspects of HTML5, which will find broad support within the browser. And like Windows 7 there will also be a possibility of touch.
It does all sound a little bit Chrome, but we’re still excited about Firefox 4. It will be interesting to see how it fares against Google’s effort and, of course, Internet Exploder as it ups the stakes and aims for a cleaner interface.