Firefox 4.0 is the flavor of Mozilla's web browser that is expected to come to the market sometimes in the second half of next year, while delivering to users a series of visual changes that will start to appear as soon as Firefox 3.7 is pushed out. We already had a glimpse at how the 3.7 version of Firefox might look like, and at the visual improvements it might bring to Windows-based computers, and we should also have a look at how 4.0 should continue the improvements.
According to Mozilla Wiki, the UI of Firefox 4.0 is mainly expected to deliver refinements to the changes that are to come with 3.7, and should include some major additions and changes. Among them, we can count the possibility that the LocationBar and SearchBar are to be merged, the Stop/Refresh/Go are to become One Button, a Tab-on-Top Option could appear, as well as App Tabs, the Home Tab functionality is to be enhanced, the Bookmarks Bar hidden and the Status Bar removed.
Here's what Mozilla says when it comes to the merging of the LocationBar and SearchBar: “The AwesomeBar already has a lot of search functionality, even though it is currently only local. These fields have a convergent function: finding things. Merging these and including something like Taskfox will put search in a unified location with added utility. It will also reduce toolbar complexity/clutter by merging functionality.”
The merging of Stop/Refresh/Go into a single button is something that should kick off in Firefox 3.7. While this move would result in the disappearance of a toolbar button, it might be inconvenient as it would be moved away from the back/forward buttons. However, it seems that users will find in the Customize page the option to add Stop, Reload and Go buttons.
The Tab-on-Top option would eliminate the presence of having the page title both in the title bar and in a tab. At the same time, it would also offer more space for the content to be displayed (something that those familiar with Google's Chrome should already know). The presence of App Tabs would allow users to pin web apps to the left side of the tabbar for easy access (just as apps can be pinned to Windows 7's task bar).
Firefox 3.7 is said to come with a Home Tab that should see its functionality expanded in 4.0. “It turns into a dashboard like page. It could potentially have your top bookmarks, about:me stats, history timeline, recently closed tabs, change styling on major local holidays, or more,” Mozilla says, adding that it should become something more than just a link to the browser's homepage.
Other visual changes that Firefox 4.0 should come around with include a hidden Bookmarks Bar, with the bookmarks widget placed on the navigation bar; a new notification system that should remove notification bars, with notification panels, persistent notifications integrated into the Page and Tools button; User Profiles; and the disappearance of the Status Bar, which is said to take a lot of space at the moment. All of these changes are seen only as proposed directions for now, yet one should agree that Firefox's face will become quite attractive if they are put in place.