Mozilla has overhauled Firefox’s design a few times in the past decade, most notably with the ‘Australis’ look in 2014 (with the large back button and Chrome-like tabs) and the ‘Photon’ redesign in 2017. Firefox 89 starts rolling out today on desktop and mobile platforms, and it features yet another visual update, nicknamed ‘Proton.’
The latest redesign is less of an overhaul than Australis and Photon were at the time of their releases, so there should be fewer complaints about the changes this time around (but maybe not). Most of the updates are subtle — more spacing around some elements, fewer icons in the address bar and hamburger menu, and so on. There’s also a button for Pocket (which is owned by Mozilla) in the toolbar by default, which feels a bit like bloat, but at least it can be easily removed.
The most significant change here is the tab bar, where tabs now ‘float’ above the bar with a drop shadow. It’s definitely a unique take on browser tabs, but the tab bar still functions the same, so it won’t take long for anyone to get used to.
Mozilla said in its blog post, “the fresh new Firefox is easy on the eyes, bright and buoyant on screens of all sizes — computers, phones and tablets. A new icon set, crisp typography and thoughtful spacing throughout all reflect a modern aesthetic for 2021. […] We’re always excited when a new Firefox launches, and when it comes to this major redesign, we’re even more stoked for you to experience it. If you left Firefox behind at some point, this modern approach — inside and out — is designed to win you back and make it your go-to browser.”
Firefox 89 on Android and iOS also have some elements of the redesign. The Android browser has new icons throughout the app, and unlike the desktop browser, Firefox for Android is keeping icons in the overflow menu (matching Chrome on Android).