gnome web epiphany iconEpiphany — the web browser most of us would like to use, but don’t — has a new release on the way.

Having had a sneaky peek at the upcoming update’s change-log I think it’s fair to say that the next release of Epiphany could make some of us reconsider.…

Some 7 years since we wrote about Epiphany’s rebirth as ‘Web’, a core GNOME app, it feels appropriate to highlight a crop of improvements expected to be on offer in GNOME Web 3.32 this March…

1. Reader Mode Improvements

We made a lot of noise over Epiphany’s reader mode when added last year and I’m pleased to report that clutter-reduction feature is set to get even better in Epiphany 3.3.

There’s now a keyboard shortcut to toggle reader mode on and off. When you encounter a page that could do with a quick prune just tap Super + Shift + R to dial things back.

This key combo saves you from having to to hunt and peck in menus, or remember which toolbar button is which.

Secondly, a small set of preferences for reader mode have been added. These let you improve the styling and look of reader mode pages. Choose between light and dark pages, and between a sans or serif font.

reader-mode in Epiphany

2. Native PDF Viewing

Arguably, the headline feature in this release, Epiphany 3.32 supports viewing PDFs in the browser using the libevince library.

This will prove especially handy if you read a lot of PDFs online. Presently, Epiphany will download a PDF when you click on a link to a PDF file, requiring you to open it in a separate app, like Evince or Okular.

But in v3.32 the PDF will open in the same tab (or a new tab, depending on your choice), allowing you to read, scan, and pan around the document without any ungraceful shunting to another app!

3. Additional Zoom Steps

epiphany dropdown address bar

Epiphany’s page zoom, using the buttons or keyboard shortcuts, jumps up from 100% to 125% to 150%, and similarly down to 75% to 50%.

Not so in the new release.

Epiphany zooms in using the following increments:

100% → 110% → 125% → 133% → 150%  → 170% → 200% → 240% → 300%

And zooms out using the following increments:

100%  → 90% → 80% → 67% → 50% → 30%

These zoom levels are in keeping with Mozilla Firefox, and are more fine-grained than those offered in either Chromium or Google Chrome.

4. More tab options

Additional tab options feature in the latest builds of Epiphany, including:

  • Reload all tabs
  • Reload individual tab
  • Reopen last closed tab
  • Close all other tabs

In addition, the new tab button now appears on the left-hand side of the header bar always, while middle-clicking the homepage button will now open a page in new tab.

No, these aren’t the sexiest of changes, but they’re worth a shout out nonetheless.

5. Mouse Gestures

So Epiphany 3.32 picks up experimental support for mouse gestures. You know, like the ones Opera used to have:

  • Middle click + Move left = Back
  • Middle click + Move right = Forward
  • Middle click + Move down = Open new tab
  • Middle click + Move up + Move down = Reload current tab
  • Middle click + Move down + Move right = Close current tab

There’s also support for a 3-finger swipe gesture on touchpads/trackpads to navigate back and forward.

No word on if these will be enabled by default or whether an option will need to be toggled in a settings box somewhere.

Either way, if you’re a fan of navigating using gestures, Epiphany 3.32 has you catered for!

Bonus: Spiffy new animated drop down

Finally, here’s a change most people won’t notice: the address bar. It has a springy new animation and — finally! — shows favicon for search engines:

More to come

This list is just a sample of the changes Epiphany 3.32 will ship with. A tonne of minor tweaks, fixes and enhancements, too many to list here, will also feature. If you’re keen to know more check out the official change-log over on the Epiphany Gitlab page.

If you’re on a system that supports Flatpak you can download and install the latest nightly build of Epiphany/Web as a Flatpak app. See Gitlab for more details.

Finally, as this post concerns an app that is under development there’s always the risk that some features or changes end up reverted or pulled before the final release. While everything on this list is currently present in GNOME Web’s master branch, don’t be too upset if some things don’t  make the transition to stable.