Mozilla has launched version 29 of Firefox after launching the Australis redesign nearly two years ago. This is one of Firefox’s largest redesign since it moved to a rapid release schedule a few years ago.
The new version of Firefox looks significantly more like Google Chrome. It has the same three-bar menu on the right side of the browser and round tabs. However, Firefox is maintaining its separate search form, likely because many people still do not know that you can use the address bar as a search form.
There is a “Customize” button in the new Firefox menu. When you click on that button, the browser turns into a customization mode so that you can move around user interface elements and organize the browser using drag-and-drop.
Firefox also de-emphasizes unselected tabs so that they fade in the background. This allows people to focus on the tabs that they are actually looking at.
The feature that I like the best is the improved syncing system. Firefox Accounts is now used for syncing settings and bookmarks between computers instead of the old system which did not really depend much on cloud services for storing information. If you already linked your Firefox machines, you may want to unlink your accounts and use the new system. The new system uses an e-mail and password instead of randomized codes.
The reason why it took Mozilla so long with this redesign is because the legacy code was hard to deal with. A lot of the earlier design was hardcoded and to make the customization features work, the team had to rewrite large parts of the interface to make it more flexible.