The redesign of Firefox, codenamed Australis, has entered the Aurora pre-beta build testing phase. It will be the biggest change to the browser since Firefox 4 was released in 2011, that introduced the orange Firefox button in the top left corner.
Anyone can download and install Firefox Aurora. It has some differences to the official stable release: it automatically sends feedback to Mozilla, for example, and obviously allows you to test upcoming features. The Australis design has been available in another testing channel ‘nightly builds’ for a while, but the Aurora pre-beta channel is more stable.
As well as a brand new design, Firefox 29 features the new and much improved sync, that allows you to easily synchronize your data on whatever device you use Firefox. If also has a new menu, better suited to touch control, and the interface can be easily modified to suit you, simply by dragging and dropping around the browser. Mozilla has decided that bookmarking pages is important enough that a new star icon now sits next to the search bar, allowing you to bookmark your current page in a single click.
Once a feature is introduced to the Aurora channel, it usually takes six weeks to be released officially, so you don’t have too long to wait if you don’t want to try this pre-beta build.
Unlike Google Chrome and its Canary alpha channel, you cannot install a Firefox test build while running Firefox. This makes it slightly less accessible – it’s nice being able to check out Chrome Canary’s new features without having to close or uninstall the official release. With Aurora, you have to upgrade your installed Firefox version, meaning you can’t switch between the stable and pre-beta easily.