Mozilla confirmed some time ago that it is working on an interface refresh of the Firefox web browser under the codename Photon (not to be confused with Proton, a previous design refresh codename).
First non-final bits of Proton landed in Firefox Nightly in January 2021. The first change altered the design of tabs in the browser, including a new display and controls for media playing tabs. The change is hidden behind a preference currently, and it will take some time before it is finalized and lands in Firefox Stable.
The most recent version of Firefox Nightly, as of February 4, 2021, includes another design refresh; this time, it is the new tab page that received an overhaul. More precisely, it is the Top Sites feature of Firefox.
Top Sites are displayed above the fold on the New Tab page of the browser; they include a selection of preset sites and sponsored sites by default, but will be filled with sites visited by the user. Users have options to remove preset and sponsored entries, and pin their favorites for fast access.
Top Sites are no longer called that in the latest Firefox Nightly as Mozilla decided to rename them to Shortcuts. A click on the Personalize button on the browser’s New Tab page displays the new name, an option to set the number of rows to a value of 1 to 4, and to disable sponsored shortcuts.
The name change is just a small part of the change as shortcuts are displayed using a new design on Firefox’s New Tab page. The site’s icon is centered in a square with rounded corners, and there is whitespace all around it.
Previous versions of Firefox displayed a snapshot of the site’s design and the icon, or just the icon. For sites represented by icons, the whitespace was minimal, and for sites with snapshots, there was no whitespace at all.
The new design has a cleaner more consistent look to it.
Nightly users who want to check it out need to set the preference browser.newtabpage.activity-stream.newNewtabExperience.enabled on about:config to TRUE in the latest version of the browser.
Now You: What is your first impression of the new design?