Firefox may get a unified search and address bar soon
Mozilla's Firefox browser is one of the few browsers left standing that displays an address bar and search bar by default in its interface.
Ever since Google Chrome was launched, most browsers merged search functionality into the address bar, likely to save space and limit interface elements.
Firefox users can search using the browser's address bar or the search bar. What's interesting about this is that it is still possible -- with some tweaks -- to use different providers.
The idea to combine the browser's address bar and search bar is not new. Extensions like Foobar introduced that functionality years ago.
A team of Mozilla engineers is working on a prototype currently that combines the browser's address bar and search bar natively.
Note: The screenshots below are mockups. They don't necessarily reflect the final implementation.
As you see on the screenshot above, the search bar has been removed from the browser. When you enter a search term into the browser's address bar, suggestions and information are displayed immediately.
Some information are displayed in current versions of Firefox like bookmark and browsing history hits while others, the panel offering information on the right or Evernote results at the bottom, are not.
The interface looks a lot cleaner than before thanks to the grouping of results. Current Firefox implementations merge suggestions, history and bookmarks together and highlight types using icons.
The panel on the right displays general information as long as no result has been selected. These are powered by Yahoo and identical to what Yahoo displays on its US-American website on the right on search result pages.
It is not clear currently what is happening if you switch to another search provider. It could be that the information that Yahoo provides are still displayed in the sidebar, that information from another provider are displayed, or that no information at all are displayed.
Once you select a result, a preview of the result is displayed. Depending on the type of result, it may display the page's first paragraph or price information if it is a shopping site.
An option to bookmark a resource right from the page is provided as well.
Another mockup highlights what Firefox may display when you click on the address bar without entering a search term.
It displays the most recent searches and a list of top sites. It is not clear if top sites refers to sites opened by the user or if it is a selection of sites selected by Mozilla. If the latter is the case, it is likely that users will be able to modify the listing just like they can on the browser's New Tab page.
Below are all mockups of the new feature that Mozilla published so far:
One thing that seems sure is that it will be difficult to switch search providers. You can do so on Firefox's preferences page under Search but not directly in the interface anymore. To be fair, that option is currently only available when you use the search bar and not when you use the address bar.
One question that Firefox users who use the search bar may have is whether it will be possible to display a search bar in the browser should the change to live. (via SÃ¶ren Hentzschel)
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