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Firefox 29: What’s new and should you try it?

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Firefox 29: What’s new and should you try it?

Firefox 29: What’s New and should you try it?

Mozilla has just released Firefox 29, which ushers in a radical redesign of its interface as well as a number of under the bonnet changes that Mozilla hopes will make the browser simpler yet more customisable. We take a closer look at what's new and whether it's worth trying out.

New Australis Design

The most obvious change to the latest release of Firefox is its revamped design. Codenamed Australis, this new look has three main changes from previous versions of Firefox.

Gone is the orange menu in the top left to be replaced by a three-bar button menu on the right. Meanwhile tabs now have rounded edges and non-active tabs are made more translucent so they disappear into the background

Firefox 29

Firefox 29

Firefox 28s

Firefox 28

Chrome

Google Chrome

Firefox 29 tabs

Firefox 29 showing multiple tabs

There’s no getting passed it, the whole look is now very much akin to Google Chrome, which you can either see as a good or a bad thing. In defence of the new look, Mozilla’s VP of Firefox, Jonathan Nightingale, said "Google didn’t invent simplicity… We do lots of things differently." Seems a fair argument to us, even if we're not sure about the harder-to-see tabs.

Firefox designs staples that do remain are the presence of separate boxes for URLs and search – all the other major browsers have now combined these. Likewise, core navigation buttons like Back, Forward and Refresh remain in their tried and trusted positions – long-term Firefox users shouldn’t be too thrown.

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A new menu

As well as moving the main menu, Mozilla has also completely revamped it. Tap the new menu button and, instead of a list of word-heavy menu items with hover-activated sub menus, you get a clean and clear grid of commonly used items with big icons above them.

The default selection are all items you could otherwise find in the main menu of the old system, but here they’re much more prominent. Crucially they’re also much more touchscreen friendly, making Firefox 29 the most touchscreen friendly Windows browser around. Even Cut, Copy, Paste and Zoom have been given nice big prominent buttons on the menu.

More customisable

Another key feature of the new menu system is its customisability. Although Firefox always had a fairly powerful set of customisation tools for tweaking the layout of features on its toolbars, Firefox 29 now brings this to the menu too.

Tap the customisation button and you can start dragging and dropping tools to and from the menu as well as the toolbars. Don’t Print much? Drag it out of the main menu. Often find yourself emailing links? Drag it into the main toolbar.

Firefox 29

The new menu system is also compatible with other add-ons, allowing you to add buttons for your favourites right on the toolbar while putting your less used ones in the menu. The likes of Pinterest, Send to Kindle, AdBlock, FireShot and more are fully compatible.

If there’s a downside to all this it’s that if a tool isn’t in the menu you can’t access it without going into the customisation screen and dragging the button into view. Instead, you’ll either have to find the keyboard shortcut or tap Alt to bring up the old school menu.

Easy access Bookmarks

One simple little tweak to Firefox 29 is the streamlined bookmarking tool. Tap the new star button and a page is instantly bookmarked, and there’s even a little animation to show where the bookmark has gone: into the bookmarks button next door.

firefox 29 bookmarks

It’s a small change but one that will doubtless make bookmarking pages a much speedier process for many users.

New syncing system

Firefox 29 SyncThe final major addition to Firefox 29 is its new syncing system for matching up settings and bookmarks between machines.

While Firefox has had a system in place for a while it has always been rather clunky, requiring random codes instead of a username and password.

Now Mozilla has Firefox Accounts, which uses a more conventional email and password user account combination.

Data is synced via Mozilla’s cloud systems and Mozilla has plans to use the service for other parts of the application too.

Firefox Accounts is also coming to Firefox on Android, making for even easier cross-platform syncing.

More speed!

Mozilla claims this is the fastest version of Firefox yet, with graphs to prove it, and so far it does indeed feel very nippy. Whether its tendency to clog up and crash over time has been fixed is another matter, but so far it’s doing well.

Should you give Firefox 29 a try?

All told, we think Firefox 29 is a marked improvement over previous versions. The interface is definitely cleaner and more tablet friendly, it's easier to customise and it seems nippier too. The only thing we're not sure about is the new tab style, but we can live with it. What's for certain, if you haven't tried Firefox in a little while it's definitely worth giving this latest version a go.

ApesWhat ?

May 1, 2014, 7:56 pm

Using it already ,
or should i say getting used to it ..

Strani

May 2, 2014, 1:42 am

I have to say I really like the way it looks. Right now I use Chrome and
Firefox both (with http://www.start.me as my start page to make sure my
bookmarks stay synced) but I might really switch to Firefox now.

rybo1

May 2, 2014, 9:43 am

Unlike Opera, FF has made a forward improvement. It's very easy to use, no real learning curve. Doesn't remind me of Chrome at all. I used Chrome for years until it became sluggish in page rendering and getting to a site. I switched to FF about a year ago and gone was the sluggishness of Chrome. It seems that with FF things only get better as FF 29 has shown. Yes, I'll try it and keep it.

PeterMcPumpkinPhD

May 2, 2014, 12:28 pm

If you don't like the Chrome-like tabs you can put a theme on it to get the older rectangle tab look. I use "FT DeepDark 10" and it looks great and works perfect (so far)

Gary Dolan

May 2, 2014, 1:20 pm

Installed FF 29. Now left without Flash Player as it faulting every single time, created new user Profile on Windows 7 32-Bit SP1, all updates freshly installed. Everything up until installing upgraded Firefox worked perfectly.
Sop why not try running the news channel from http://wwww.bbc.com/news and let me know how you get on with it.

Sorin Cirneala

May 2, 2014, 3:17 pm

You have 4 "w" in the address, man :-)

Smith_comma_John

May 2, 2014, 8:02 pm

The faded-out tabs are ANNOYING and impractical. How the *bleep* were they a "distraction"?! Once again, cute trendy so-called "design" trumps functionality. Stuff works, leave it be. Meh.

Undecider

May 3, 2014, 7:02 pm

WTF!? If I wanted Chrome, I'd install Chrome. Are we trying to steer people into the blandness of "oneness"?

Solution: uninstall 29, reinstall 28 and set the Options to never check for updates. Done!

credulousdolt

May 4, 2014, 2:22 pm

De gustibus non est disputandem; but it's extremely impolite to advise people to stick with any version of software. Some poor, benighted soul might believe you. Threats evolve; software must evolve. You'll get over your aesthetic complaint.

Anyway, you either don't know or don't care that Chrome and FF use different rendering and script engines. What if you don't really care for, or trust, WebKit?

Nottheusual1

May 5, 2014, 1:16 am

Solved a number of problems for me, from memory hogging and getting super slow to Adobe Acrobat issues.

We were about to switch to Chrome. Now we won't.

Иван

May 5, 2014, 2:25 am

We are not happy Firefox. Stop trying to be youtube and show crap down our throats. We want a functional customizable browser, not some candy looking toy.

Fernando Vieira

May 5, 2014, 3:07 pm

Just what I did. I never had problems with 28 :)

DJ

May 5, 2014, 10:18 pm

I went from using Firefox 23 on my iMac to using Firefox 28. I had to install an add-on into Firefox 28 to give me back the download window; but, from everything I am seeing about Firefox 29, I will have to stay with version 28 as long as I can. This business of trying to make everything look like it belongs on tablet or smart phone is silly and leaves old fashioned desk top computer users like my scratching our heads and wondering why?

David Doumèche

May 7, 2014, 1:03 pm

I don't like the interface changes too much, and the Brendan Eich controversy nearly made me quit firefox. But Firefox 29 has a much better memory and speed handling .

wildstylechef

May 9, 2014, 2:42 am

TRIED 29 had it tweaked to how I loved it in vs 28 , which is a BIG warning when you load new software and spend a large amount of time adjusting the software to act and function like you had it before. Biggest hassle is being unable to easily turn the navigation toolbar on and off but as I use "tile tabs" ans "session mngr" running 60+ tabs over 3-6 windows the vs 29 turned out to be an absolute pig in RAM memory hitting new record usage in record time and nothing I did would change it. Also VS 29 messes with the firefox files so trying to reload with an older vs is not possible so U had to scrub and reload from FEBE backup ( most excellent backup app) VS 29 also screwed with my java charts. So as a high load user its a makeup on a pig.

Mercerenies

May 9, 2014, 10:49 pm

Mozilla needs to quit cramming their new theme designs down our throats. I love the new customization options, but it's become a running pattern that with each Firefox update I have to install a new add-on to get more stuff out of my title bar and down to a more usable position. Am I the only one who likes using a title bar for... you know, a title and nothing else these days? All in all, once I finished undoing the more annoying "features", the rest of the features seemed genuinely useful. The new menu button is much more organized than the previous design, and the new customization system (despite being a bit too flashy for my taste) is much more streamlined and accessible.

Henri Beuler

May 10, 2014, 6:00 am

It's HORRIBLE CR*P!
Uninstalling and going back to 28, never going to do another useless FF upgrade until I see the reviews first.
If I wanted chrome, I'd use chrome, I hate chrome..why does FF want to be chrome?

Mari Andersen

May 10, 2014, 8:58 am

Very small/unrecogniseable favorites button that i almost cannot see.. and have to think every time "Where is it?" Call it Favo or something small text and make it double as wide at least.
And the headline of the webpage is gone, i can see half the text in the tabs, but some times i have to scroll up to read the headline again on the page itself, this text was visible in the headline of the browser before.
And where is the point on top left one can double-click to close the browser when the browser is partly outside of the main window and the X therefore is out of reach? If i double-click that now the browser becomes fullscreen like if i did double-click in the middle of the blue line. Google Chrome and old Firefox has that.
I feel this last thing taken away is kinda done by 14 year olds that does'nt think usefulness and speed is important in ones work and are used to fullscreen windows in tablet computers.
And also bright white menus hurt my eyes.

Shien Uzuki

May 10, 2014, 12:39 pm

This update is the worst, I am never updating my firefox again

Alex s0il1

May 10, 2014, 5:56 pm

I'm Jewish and I find your profile picture offensive.

Alex s0il1

May 10, 2014, 5:58 pm

But...but...safety...crashes...you are playing a dangerous game sire!

Philip Meyer

May 10, 2014, 8:43 pm

I tried FF 29. Hated the new interface, reinstalled 28.
I couldn't customise it to how I had 28 working. I like tabs just above browser pane, can't get used to tabs being at top with toolbars underneath.
I have a single small star in address bar to set a bookmark. With FF 29, you have to add a widget that includes bookmark star + bookmark menu, so it uses up more space (there's three different widgets to list bookmarks, but only one that supports add bookmark).
With TabMixPlus addon, I could double-click the tab bar empty space to create a new tab. That didn't work any more.
The interface felt slower. Used more space. Some pages I loaded didn't display correctly, and took ages to display.

Bab

May 10, 2014, 9:37 pm

My Firefox since v 20. http://i.imgur.com/RoP3eQv.png

Lou

May 10, 2014, 10:22 pm

Installed 29, now I'm going through the hassle of getting 28 back on my pcs. Wish I'd have read the reviews before installing 29. Everything was screwed up. Felt like I was on Chrome. I hate Chrome!!!! Using system restore left v28 with several problems, however I was able to restart FF in safe mode, close it out, then reopen and everything went back to normal.
I want my tabs on bottom, not top, I want my menu on the left, not the right, I want my start/stop/reload buttons where I want to put them, not where FF wants me to put them. They claim google didn't invent simplicity, which if correct, but why are other browsers looking to chrome as a benchmark? If I wanted Chrome I'd install chrome.

Menno555

May 14, 2014, 8:35 am

It is bad. A stab in in the back to all the people/users who made Firefox great :(
http://www.ipetitions.com/peti...

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