File Under: Browsers

Mozilla Experiments With Fancier New Tab Page in Firefox 13

The proposed new tab page in Firefox 13

Mozilla is considering a fancier new tab page that will replace the current blank page presented when users create a new tab in Firefox. Like other browsers, Firefox will soon offer users a set of thumbnails on the new tab page with website recommendations based on the most frequently and recently visited pages in Firefox’s history.

If you’d like to see the new page in action you’ll need to download the Aurora channel build of Firefox. (Alternatively you can use the Nightly channel.) The new tab page will be enabled by default in Aurora until Feb. 16 for testing purposes. After that the feature will be hidden away while more work is done. Head over to Firefox Engineer Tim Taubert’s blog for details on how to re-enable the new tab page if you’d like to keep using it after that date.

The new tab page in Firefox looks similar to what you’ll find in Chrome and Opera. Indeed, every web browser’s new tab page is essentially a variation on what Opera pioneered with its “speed dial” page. The basic idea is to provide a quick way to access sites you frequently visit. Mozilla’s take thus far is to pull a mixture of your most frequently and most recently visited sites and display them in a 3-by-3 grid of thumbnails.

The goals for Firefox’s new tab page are ensuring that the page loads instantly, that it isn’t distracting and that it requires zero configuration. The latter explains why, thus far, the new tab features don’t offer much in the way of customization.

There are options to “pin” a site permanently to the grid, delete a site and rearrange the order of the sites. Each site will display a thumbnail once you’ve click on it. Or at least that’s the theory. As the screenshot above demonstrates there are clearly still some bugs in the screenshot feature.

The new tab page may be a little bit of a me-too feature at this point, but for those who have been wanting it, rest assured it’s coming. Firefox 13, which is when the fancier new tab page is slated to arrive is due in June 2012.