Mozilla is working on a design refresh for the organization’s Firefox web browser that it refers to as Photon internally.
The last major design refresh of Firefox was unveiled in Firefox 57 in November 2017; it was known as Proton back then.
Mozilla did change several interface elements after the release of Firefox 57, recently the controversial address bar overhaul that it launched in Firefox 75 Stable.
Information about the design refresh is limited at this point in time. Mozilla created a meta bug on Bugzilla as a reference to keep track of the changes.
While there are not any mockups or screenshots posted on the site, the names of the bugs provide information on the elements that will get a refresh. These are: The Firefox address bar and tabs bar;
The main Firefox menu; Infobars; Doorhangers; Context Menus; Modals.
Most user interface elements are listed in the meta bug. Mozilla plans to release the new design in Firefox 89; the browser is scheduled for release on May 18, 2021. However, since development work is ongoing, it is possible that the release will be delayed.
Firefox extension author, Sören Hentzschel revealed that he saw some of the Firefox Proton mockups. According to a post on his German blog, development is still in an early stage. Mozilla created multiple mockups with different designs and it is not clear yet which of these will be picked and be included in Firefox.
He notes that Firefox will look more modern when the designs land and that Mozilla plans to introduce useful improvements, especially in regards to the user experience.
Hentzschel mentions two examples of potential improvements to the user experience: a mockup that displays vertical tabs in a compact mode, and another that shows the grouping of tabs on the tab bar.
Development versions of Firefox will receive the refresh earlier. Firefox users who run Nightly, Beta or Development editions of the browser may do the following to enable Proton in the browser (note that the switch does nothing at this point as Mozilla will have to push it to the development versions first):
- Load about: config in the Firefox address bar.
-Confirm that you will be careful.
=Search for browser.proton.enabled.
-Set the preference to TRUE to enable the design.
-Restart the Firefox web browser.
-Again, it will take weeks or even months before the design refresh will become available in Firefox Nightly.