Mobile Firefox first steps

As part of it mobile strategy, Mozilla has unveiled the first designs of what may become in time, Mobile Firefox’s user interface. The design considers two scenarios: touch screen enabled devices like most PDAs and smart phones and those were screen navigation is performed with a keyboard or similar, like most cell phones.

Perhaps the most noticeable change in these first previews is the aim for look and feel and even functionality consistency with Firefox 3, a true challenge for an application constrained to cell phones and PDAs limited computing resources.

The main window looks very clean with a thin title bar, a main toolbar that can be hidden by tapping on the title bar and features a refresh/stop button, a location/search bar and Firefox 3-style star/bookmarks button.

A tap in the location/search bar calls the device on-screen keyboard to enter either a web address or search terms. The press the Go button to visit the web address, the search button to perform a search or cancel. The location bar is as mighty as Firefox 3’s awesome bar displaying previously entered web addresses and titles that match the entered characters.

Additionally, the list of previously entered address can be displayed by tapping in a chevron inside the location bar.

As a page loads, the reload button changes to a stop button while the location bar shows the page loading progress in the background.

The star button displays the list of bookmarks on a single tap. Double tap to bookmark the current page.

A navigation toolbar is displayed in the lower part with back and forward button, zoom in and zoom out buttons which suddenly become very relevant on mobile devices and a cool tabs button that displays up to four tab previews on tap for quick tab switching. You will be able to pan amon tabs if more than four are currently opened and close them with individual buttons.

Zoom-In and Zoom-Out buttons do a full page zooming (images included) just like Firefox 3 will do. You can then pan a web page by tapping and dragging around.

For non touch screen devices a virtual cursor is provided and controlled with the keyboard navigational keys. Other actions are performed through menus and submenus.

Mozilla is also providing XUL prototypes, (I used the touch screen enabled one for the screenshots), so you can try the proposed interface on a working prototype with a few limitations though.

Of course the reason for this early announcement is to allow people to share their views and comments. I am not sure if there is a forum for that right now, but Mozilla Mobile’s Doug Turners’s post should be a good place to start.


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