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Firefox Set to Get a New Look, Better Sync

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It’s going to take a bit longer for users of the open-source Firefox web browser to get an overhauled user interface.

Since early 2013, Mozilla developers have been teasing users with mockups and discussion about the new Australis Interface. At one point the plan was to have Australis debut in October as part of the Firefox 25 release, but that didn’t happen.

Australis introduces a simplification of the Firefox interface as well as new customizations enabling users to really make the browser their own. The Australis changes might be considered to be disruptive to some, which is why Mozilla is being cautious about introducing the design overhaul to its generally available release.

Firefox development occurs in multiple branches with the main release branch being the generally available release which is complemented with a beta and alpha (aurora) release branch. Leading edge development is relegated to the Nightly channel, which is where Australis has sat, until now. Mozilla is expected to uplift Australis into the Aurora channel for Firefox 29 today.

“Significant development will continue over the next 6 weeks, as we burn down current Australis bugs as well as new issues found by the Aurora audience,” Mozilla developer Justin Dolske wrote in a mailing list. The next major uplift in the Mozilla development process is currently scheduled for March 17th, at which point components in the Aurora release can be loaded into the beta release.

Dolske noted that at that uplift point, Mozilla developers will make a determination on whether or not Australis is ready for Beta. If Australis does make it into the Beta uplift on March 17th, the current schedule has the General Availability release of Firefox 29 set for April 29th.

If Australis misses the March Beta uplift, it could be considered in the next cycle for the Firefox 30th uplift. In that case the earliest regular users will see the new Australis interface will be is on June 10th of 2014.

While Australis is now making its transition out of Firefox’s Nightly branch, new items are coming in. On February 1st, Mozilla developers introduced a new version of the Firefox Sync, browser data synchronization feature.

Firefox Sync is a feature that was originally known as Mozilla Weave and got its start back in 2007. In 2010, Weave was renamed as Firefox Sync.

The challenge for many Sync users from its earliest days has been setup across multiple devices. It’s a challenge that the new version of Firefox Sync is aiming to conquer.

“Signing into the new Sync is easy to do with a Firefox account,” Mozilla documentation on the new Sync states. “No more pairing codes or recovery keys. Just sign in with your email and password and you’re set.”

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Datamation and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist

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