31 votes

Firefox Fenix for Android mockups

31 comments

  1. [4]
    dblohm7 Link
    Mozilla employee here: While I do not work directly on mobile, I do have a high-level understanding of this project, so feel free to AMA. I don't guarantee that I can answer everything, but I'm...

    Mozilla employee here: While I do not work directly on mobile, I do have a high-level understanding of this project, so feel free to AMA. I don't guarantee that I can answer everything, but I'm happy to share what I can.

    26 votes
    1. [3]
      selenium Link Parent
      Do you know if "Fenix" will support add-ons? I know that geckoview is pretty much gecko, so in theory it should be possible, but neither Focus nor the Android Components reference browser support...

      Do you know if "Fenix" will support add-ons? I know that geckoview is pretty much gecko, so in theory it should be possible, but neither Focus nor the Android Components reference browser support them yet.

      5 votes
      1. [2]
        dblohm7 Link Parent
        Yes! GeckoView implements a different interface from the Android WebView. The reason for this is that WebView was originally designed for embedding web content in apps, whereas GeckoView is...

        Yes!

        GeckoView implements a different interface from the Android WebView. The reason for this is that WebView was originally designed for embedding web content in apps, whereas GeckoView is specifically designed for building browsers. We want GeckoView to support various features that users expect from a fully-fledged browser, including add-ons!

        14 votes
        1. selenium Link Parent
          Thanks a lot, I cannot wait to try it :)

          Thanks a lot, I cannot wait to try it :)

          6 votes
  2. ainar-g Link
    In case anyone is interested in reasons for the rewrite, I've received some answers on Reddit. TL;DR: the old codebase is not easy to work with.

    In case anyone is interested in reasons for the rewrite, I've received some answers on Reddit. TL;DR: the old codebase is not easy to work with.

    10 votes
  3. [21]
    mat Link
    Move all the chrome to the bottom eh? That won't upset anyone's muscle memory or confuse people coming from other browsers. I want to like Firefox but seriously. The Principle of Least...

    Move all the chrome to the bottom eh?

    That won't upset anyone's muscle memory or confuse people coming from other browsers.

    I want to like Firefox but seriously. The Principle of Least Astonishment is pretty much the single most important part of UI design and this decision goes right for creating the most astonishment (short of just vanishing the chrome entirely). Smooth move Fenix team..

    9 votes
    1. [14]
      Jedi Link Parent
      Once you get used to the address bar at the bottom it's hard to go back. It's easier to reach, especially with phones getting taller and taller.

      Once you get used to the address bar at the bottom it's hard to go back. It's easier to reach, especially with phones getting taller and taller.

      13 votes
      1. [12]
        mat Link Parent
        "Once you get used to" is the key phrase there. Once you get used to anything it feels right - there's no such thing as intuitive, just what you're used to - but the amount of work needed to get...

        "Once you get used to" is the key phrase there. Once you get used to anything it feels right - there's no such thing as intuitive, just what you're used to - but the amount of work needed to get used to something is effort lots of people won't put in. You're on tildes, you're almost certainly a power user. You will very likely put more effort into learning new interfaces than most people. If I advised my wife to install Fenix she'd complain about how hard it is to use then probably go back to Chrome before getting used to such a radical UI change.

        Make the bottom bar an option, by all means - but the default should be the least surprising position. Especially as at install time the user is already having to get used to other, more minor, changes.

        12 votes
        1. [8]
          Whom (edited ) Link Parent
          There doesn't seem to be room in what you're saying for innovations which are truly better but are radically different. Not saying this is a case of that (though browsers are some of the most...

          There doesn't seem to be room in what you're saying for innovations which are truly better but are radically different. Not saying this is a case of that (though browsers are some of the most painfully hand-stretchy things I've ever used on a phone, so I am open to the idea), I've never used a mobile browser with these things at the bottom, but "you can get used to anything" doesn't seem useful. Is it worth being this hostile to change, regardless of benefit?

          I understand that the principle you mentioned discourages changing things for the hell of it, but shouldn't that be the question: If the reason is good enough to upset the norm?

          Also: Why does Firefox have to cater to the kind of person who doesn't want to use something better? Someone who doesn't want something different won't even look for a browser other than their default in the first place. Users who want to have a different experience are the only ones who care to change their browser! But as of now, even for most of those people, the big names all look and function nearly identically...so what's the point?

          3 votes
          1. [7]
            mat (edited ) Link Parent
            Um, yes. Sort of. It's a really hard problem to do new things with interfaces. Look at Gnome Shell, when they ditched minimising windows, menus (they kind of left the menu in but the UI is...

            Um, yes. Sort of. It's a really hard problem to do new things with interfaces. Look at Gnome Shell, when they ditched minimising windows, menus (they kind of left the menu in but the UI is fundamentally search-based) and so on, they made a huge change to how the desktop worked and it's imo the best desktop UI possibly ever - but they faced such a huge backlash for doing so. Gnome 2 got forked because of it and people are still spending hours of dev time on an ancient UI. And linux users are all power users, they are the best people to make such changes for.

            Metro was the same - I absolutely loved Win8's interface, once you got used to it it was near-transparent (the ideal for a UI is you don't "see" it during use), but the backlash was so strong they rushed out Win10 with a watered down UI. Both Gnome's and Microsoft's decisions made a lot of sense from a design standpoint and probably tested very well out of context of daily use - people in UI test labs are used to being surprised, people at home are not - but they were too astonishing for users to accept.

            It matters only if Firefox wants to be popular. Anyone can make a niche browser with any kind of weird UI and pick up a few hundred thousand installs. But if Mozilla wants to be a player in the mobile browser wars they have to cater to the masses, and the masses don't like changes. I can just about get my friends and family to try a new browser if I pitch it as faster and more privacy focussed (which is how I sell people on FF on the desktop). Firefox does some really great things that other mainstream browsers don't but the only reason they get away with it is that the UX is not astonishing.

            fwiw, I don't necessarily think that from a pure UI standpoint a bottom address bar is bad. It might be great. It probably tested as great and I can see a number of reasons why it might be good. But it's a huge hurdle to ask people to get over - every browser almost everyone has ever used has the address bar at the top. That's a lot of habit to break, and breaking habits is crazy hard. Maybe it will work. But it's a big risk to enforce from first load. I'd probably introduce the user to it after a few hours use.

            5 votes
            1. [3]
              Whom (edited ) Link Parent
              I still don't see what you're saying other than "changes don't go over well sometimes." Sometimes they do, there's a lot of differences between where we are now and the Alto. It's hard and a tough...

              I still don't see what you're saying other than "changes don't go over well sometimes." Sometimes they do, there's a lot of differences between where we are now and the Alto. It's hard and a tough sell, sure, take that into account...but shouldn't the question always be if the change is worth the discomfort or unfamiliarity? Examples of it going over poorly just mean that the answer to that is often "no". Clearly principles like this are important and I'm talking to someone much more familiar with why that is than I am, but if they were taken as gospel then nothing would improve ever.

              I can just about get my friends and family to try a new browser if I pitch it as faster and more privacy focussed (which is how I sell people on FF on the desktop).

              As far as I know, it isn't faster on mobile, at least not universally so. As for privacy...I don't know about you, but "yeah, you don't have to stretch your hand to deal with the tabs and stuff" is a much much easier sell than anything privacy related at all. I can't imagine convincing a normal user to care about their privacy, especially if they're using a Google product, but I can totally see my mom wanting to try out something that makes her thumb hurt less. Which is why no one uses Firefox on mobile except the few who do care...and people who want to play YouTube videos in the background. It might as well just be an icon swap for Chrome.

              I'm clearly no expert, but if there's a way to stand out in a space where all the options are nearly identical to most users and the ones who don't care are given a default they'll never have a compelling reason to stray from...trying something radical makes sense.

              3 votes
              1. [2]
                mat Link Parent
                That is basically it. Except it's most of the time, not sometimes. In terms of graphical UI paradigms we're not very far away from Windows 3, which wasn't far off Gem Desktop and there isn't a...

                "changes don't go over well sometimes."

                That is basically it. Except it's most of the time, not sometimes. In terms of graphical UI paradigms we're not very far away from Windows 3, which wasn't far off Gem Desktop and there isn't a great deal to go back from there to. Things have got shinier and more animated and so on but there hasn't been much in the way of fundamental change (Shell and Metro notwithstanding, but even they only changed a few things) and the longer things don't change, the harder they are to change, because the behaviours become more and more entrenched in people.

                I'm not suggesting that moving the address bar is a fundamental change in the world of human-computer interaction. But it's a big jolt to the muscle memory of every single user and people don't like jolts. They can re-learn things, but it takes time and effort. As I said, hard problem. Is the change worth the users you'll lose over it? Can those users be retained long enough to get over the change? Those are questions I don't have the answers for.

                fwiw, people I talk to do have a sort of idea about privacy. It is filtering down to the muggles these days. It's not a major issue but it is one some people do care about. But how you sell a change matters to how much effort people are prepared to put in to learn something new - if it's a big issue for someone they'll try harder than someone who doesn't care. So if I really want to not be tracked, I'll put up with reaching to the top of the screen to get the address bar for a few weeks or so while my brain rewires that habit. But if I'm not so bothered then maybe I won't.

                3 votes
                1. Whom Link Parent
                  I don't really disagree with you where we're at now, I never wanted to argue that this specific change was actually worthwhile, just that it might be and you seemed to be framing it in a more...

                  I don't really disagree with you where we're at now, I never wanted to argue that this specific change was actually worthwhile, just that it might be and you seemed to be framing it in a more absolute way than made sense to me. Think it's all good now.

                  Privacy...I can't say that's my experience, though again I can't say what's actually true, maybe people are shifting. Still, I don't know any non-nerds who have dropped Facebook or thrown out their Amazon Echo products...or use an alternative browser.

                  2 votes
            2. [3]
              hoveringhen Link Parent
              Off-topic, but what's up with the many comments with red side-bars on this thread? I just know black is for OP

              Off-topic, but what's up with the many comments with red side-bars on this thread? I just know black is for OP

              1 vote
              1. deing Link Parent
                Red sidebars mark comments added since your last visit. You can check your settings and disable that, though.

                Red sidebars mark comments added since your last visit. You can check your settings and disable that, though.

                3 votes
              2. Soptik Link Parent
                The default comment sidebar (gray for me) is shown when you visit thread for the first time or when you've already seen the comment. Red comment sidebars mark comments that are new in this thread...

                The default comment sidebar (gray for me) is shown when you visit thread for the first time or when you've already seen the comment.

                Red comment sidebars mark comments that are new in this thread from the last time you visited the thread. (can be switched off in settings)

                Another color (purple for me) marks your comments.

                And yellow color (for me) is when for example someone gives you link to a comment. The target comment will have yellow sidebar.

                You might have slightly different colors if you don't use solarized dark theme.

                2 votes
        2. [3]
          teaearlgraycold Link Parent
          Maybe ask the user on first launch with top as the default?

          Maybe ask the user on first launch with top as the default?

          1 vote
          1. mat Link Parent
            I like asking people after like a week of use. Get them over the other first-use hurdles - a few controls are always in different places, different features to learn and so on. Then, when they're...

            I like asking people after like a week of use. Get them over the other first-use hurdles - a few controls are always in different places, different features to learn and so on. Then, when they're comfortable but not too comfortable that change is upsetting, hit them with a "Some people find this setting is more comfortable - would you like to try? You can always switch back."

            4 votes
          2. cadadr Link Parent
            Oh noes. Most people will just hit the more colourful button. And why does this merit that but not dozens of other settings? I think sticking to conventional stuff unless there are significant...

            Oh noes. Most people will just hit the more colourful button. And why does this merit that but not dozens of other settings? I think sticking to conventional stuff unless there are significant gains and expecting the user to go through the settings is better.

            2 votes
      2. quan7hum Link Parent
        This is true. I've been using kiwi browser with the option to move the address bar to the bottom for only a few weeks, and I already feel like I don't ever want it at the top anymore. It probably...

        This is true. I've been using kiwi browser with the option to move the address bar to the bottom for only a few weeks, and I already feel like I don't ever want it at the top anymore. It probably helped that I thought it was the way to go even before trying it.

        Now, with android pie and its new gesture controls, I think it's even more useful.

        2 votes
    2. [5]
      geosmin Link Parent
      Hard disagree. Chrome at the top is asinine from a UX standpoint - especially with the trend towards ever larger screens - Principle of Least Astonishment be damned.

      Hard disagree. Chrome at the top is asinine from a UX standpoint - especially with the trend towards ever larger screens - Principle of Least Astonishment be damned.

      5 votes
      1. [4]
        mat Link Parent
        Anecdotally, I don't know anyone who uses their phone one handed. I don't, and mine is tiny by modern standards. Once your screen gets past the mid-teens high nobody has the hands for that anyway....

        Anecdotally, I don't know anyone who uses their phone one handed. I don't, and mine is tiny by modern standards.

        Once your screen gets past the mid-teens high nobody has the hands for that anyway. See my comment above for why astonishing users is a bad thing - damn the POLA and you damn your own product.

        3 votes
        1. [3]
          Whom Link Parent
          How do you hold your phone? Even two-handed, I've never seen someone use one in a way that wouldn't require a huge stretch or move of the hand to reach the top of a decently sized phone.

          How do you hold your phone? Even two-handed, I've never seen someone use one in a way that wouldn't require a huge stretch or move of the hand to reach the top of a decently sized phone.

          3 votes
          1. [2]
            mat Link Parent
            Phone in one (either, I'm ambidextrous) hand, use other hand (mostly index finger) to interact with it. Probably closest to how you'd use a notebook and pen. I do use it one-handed sometimes but...

            Phone in one (either, I'm ambidextrous) hand, use other hand (mostly index finger) to interact with it. Probably closest to how you'd use a notebook and pen. I do use it one-handed sometimes but rarely and usually only in the context of hitting a shortcut as I free up my other hand to type/swipe/etc.

            I'm not sure I really know anyone who uses their phone another way but I could easily just have not noticed and/or am selectively remembering, so take that with a suitably sized pinch of salt.

            I think I read somewhere that the younger someone is the more likely they are to use their thumb as a primary manipulator. I can't remember where the break point is, but I feel like it's around 30-35.

            3 votes
            1. Whom Link Parent
              I can see why it would be less of an issue if you use your index finger. But two handed use with both hands near the bottom or cradling but using the thumb both still have issues with reaching the...

              I can see why it would be less of an issue if you use your index finger. But two handed use with both hands near the bottom or cradling but using the thumb both still have issues with reaching the top.

              Some quick searching makes it look like your is less common than other ways but still significant, so that's fair.

              1 vote
    3. PopeRigby Link Parent
      To be fair, this isn't a new design decision. Chrome on iPhone does this, so does Safari, and Samsung internet does it on Android also. I'm sure there are others I'm forgetting too.

      To be fair, this isn't a new design decision. Chrome on iPhone does this, so does Safari, and Samsung internet does it on Android also. I'm sure there are others I'm forgetting too.

      1 vote
  4. [3]
    apoctr Link
    I know this is a mock-up so not everything is set in stone yet, but are there any plans to support an option to move the browser chrome to the top instead of the bottom? I tried the bottom browser...

    I know this is a mock-up so not everything is set in stone yet, but are there any plans to support an option to move the browser chrome to the top instead of the bottom? I tried the bottom browser chrome with Google Chrome once out of curiosity for a while, I ended up hitting the home/back/menu keys pretty frequently instead of the address bar which was quite frustrating and so I'd much appreciate being able to configure its location.

    6 votes
    1. [2]
      piedpiper Link Parent
      What does "browser chrome" mean? I've never heard that term before this article and comment section. Tried to search the answer but I just get results for google chrome. Very confusing.

      What does "browser chrome" mean? I've never heard that term before this article and comment section. Tried to search the answer but I just get results for google chrome. Very confusing.

      3 votes
      1. apoctr Link Parent
        I saw it in the article so used it because I thought that was the correct terminology and didn't want to sound stupid calling it "that bottom bar thingy" :s

        I saw it in the article so used it because I thought that was the correct terminology and didn't want to sound stupid calling it "that bottom bar thingy" :s

        3 votes
  5. Nitta Link
    I was waiting for bottom address bar for ages. Chromium supported it only up to version 65 which is buggy and getting old. Hope the Firefox team keeps the bottom address bar at least as an option.

    I was waiting for bottom address bar for ages. Chromium supported it only up to version 65 which is buggy and getting old. Hope the Firefox team keeps the bottom address bar at least as an option.

    5 votes
  6. clone1 Link
    Mozilla seems to really be revitalizing their self. I've always used firefox on mobile because I don't agree with Google's practices, but it's a bit dated. This looks like the mobile equivalent of...

    Mozilla seems to really be revitalizing their self. I've always used firefox on mobile because I don't agree with Google's practices, but it's a bit dated. This looks like the mobile equivalent of firefox quantum.

    2 votes