Mozilla Firefox’s biggest facelift in years is now rolling out for everyone. The fresh look has been months in the making under the “Proton” codename and replaces Firefox’s boxy and cluttered interface with cleaner elements, icons, and typography.
With the latest redesign, Mozilla says it wants the browser to disappear in the background when you’re surfing the web. This is accomplished by overhauling Firefox for simplicity, so instead of trying to fit as many options as it can in each pixel of your screen, Mozilla now spaces out buttons, menus, and similar items so that they’re more approachable and easier to navigate.
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Signs of this renewed approach can be found in nearly every corner of Firefox. Tabs are no longer crammed tightly together, for instance, and the one you’re actively browsing “floats” to stand out from the rest. Menus have been reordered based on what people access the most and the remainder is tucked away neatly for when you need it.
Plus, Mozilla’s decision to be more generous with space affords the underlying theme of more breathing room to pop. The theme’s accents were hardly visible in previous versions, especially when you had a busy workflow and tons of tabs. Mozilla cleverly uses the theme’s gradients to emphasize active elements such as tabs on the new Firefox. In our time with the update, it all added up to a refreshing and modern Firefox that still doesn’t compromise on function.
The other key motivation behind Firefox’s redesign, Mozilla says, is to offer a “calmer” web experience. As we surf the web, several interruptions often force us to leave what we’re doing at the moment on a web page. It may be an auto-playing video in another tab or an avalanche of permission pop-ups as soon as you land on a new website. Mozilla wants to help cut back, if not eliminate, these interruptions.
Firefox 89, for example, automatically mutes auto-playing videos until you visit the tab. It even groups website permissions. So while before you had to deal with multiple pop-ups one-by-one to grant websites access to your camera or microphone, Firefox now throws a single prompt where you can allow or block these permissions in one go.
As is usually the case with Mozilla Firefox releases, the latest update includes new privacy tools too. Most importantly, it expands a handful of privacy updates Firefox gained recently to the incognito mode like cross-site cookie protection and online fingerprinting.
Mozilla Firefox’s new design refresh is also available for its Android and iOS apps. The only difference is instead of focusing on reducing the number of clicks it would take you to execute an action, Firefox’s mobile counterparts are re-engineered to let you do the same tasks in fewer touches. When you open a new tab, for example, Firefox’s app automatically pulls up the keyboard options to instantly perform a search on various sites like Amazon and Google.
We’ve been putting the new Firefox update through its paces for weeks and we found the refreshed design -- paired with Firefox’s comparable performance -- to be enough for us to abandon Google Chrome or any other Chromium browser. In addition to that, Mozilla’s principles better align with the open web and user privacy than Google, which is attempting to replace open technologies like cookies with its proprietary frameworks.
“Advertising and privacy can co-exist,” a Mozilla spokesperson told Laptopmag last month, “And the advertising industry can operate differently than it has in past years. We look forward to playing a role in finding solutions that build a better web.”
Firefox’s 89th update is available across all platforms and you can download it from Mozilla’s website.