Later this year Mozilla plans to give Firefox is a brand new look as part of something called project Photon.
And a handful of tentative mockups of this upcoming redesign have slipped out online, as German-language website soeren-hentzschel.ht reported on at the weekend.
At present 12 developers are working full-time on Project Photon (which is composed of more than just the core UI presented below) plus seven UX designers.
Firefox Photon Mockups
Sadly none of the leaked screenshots discovered thus far show what Photon is going to look like on Linux. But the bug issue screenshots give us a good ol’ gawp at how Photon looks on both Windows and macOS.
From comparing those screenshots we can glean the overall design intentions consistent between platforms, so we can get an idea of how things could look on Linux.
Naturally you’ll need to keep in mind that these mockups are not final; the finished, final product may deviate from what’s shown here as features and tweaks are made based on feedback and testing.
But we can gauge the clear design notes, like a switch to square tabs, an always visible forward button, and a new home for the refresh button in the main toolbar (it currently sits in the Awesome Bar).
Talking of the awesome bar, you’ll notice that it’s centre aligned in the browser, resulting in some uncomfortable gaps to the left and right of it.
A new action menu (referred to as an’ arrow panel’ on the Mozilla bug tracker) is also accessible from the Awesome Bar/URL bar. This serves up offer additional page actions, including (naturally, since Mozilla acquired read-it-later service Pocket) an option to Pocket the URL for later reading. Web extensions will, one assumes, be able to add additional actions to this menu if the ‘Extension X’ (sic) entry is any indication.
You might have noticed that the new tab/start page is looking a little different to. The mockup indicates that the Activity Stream experiment (available to test as part of Firefox test pilot) will be integrated into the browser directly.
This is not the only Firefox experiment on show in the browser, as Snooze Tabs is also visible in the action menu.
When Is Photon Due?
The fruits of the Photon redesign are expected to arrive in Firefox 57, due in November. It will be the first major overhaul of Firefox’s appearance since Australis made its debut back in 2014.
This should mean, going by how the Firefox release process typically works, eager testers should be able to go hands-on with the new look in August, as Firefox 57 enters the Aurora testing channel.
Firefox 57 is also expected to be the first version of Firefox to only support new Firefox web extensions, retiring support for the thousands of ‘classic’ add-ons currently available, and may even ship with the new Quantum web-engine.