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Mozilla Shows Off Tablet User Interface

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Mozilla has offered a sneak peak at its tablet user interface for the Android “Honeycomb” OS

A designer at Mozilla has offered a preview of the foundation’s work on building a tablet user interface for the Android 3.0 “Honeycomb” operating system.

“Fennecomb,” appropriately describes the UI, which is a cross between the Fennec mobile browser and Honeycomb, Google’s tablet-tailored OS.

The current UI, which is subject to change, mirrors Fennec in some ways, retaining the oversized back button and Awesomebar address bar.

UI Changes

However, Fennecomb also utilises the additional screen size afford by today’s Honeycomb tablets, from the 7-inch HTC Evo View 4G gadget to the Motorola Xoom and Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 slates.

So while the Awesomebar keeps the same tabbed menu to allow quick access to bookmarks, history, and synced desktop content, Fennec will note that the tabs have been moved off to the left in Fennecomb.

Ian Barlow, Mozilla’s mobile device user experience guru, said this makes them easier to reach and increases the number of results that can be displayed above the keyboard.

Also, while Fennec hides the UI elements such as tabs to give smartphone users more screen real estate, Mozilla has brought them roaring back for Fennecomb. In landscape mode, tabs love in a bar on the left. Users may then switch through tabs with their left thumb, and scroll through web content with their right.

Tablet Experience

The tab bar becomes tucked in a menu item at the top of the screen when the tablet is in portrait mode. Firefox enjoys millions of desktop and mobile users, but the company could score big if it nails the user experience for tablets.

That’s assuming, of course, that the UI is good enough to overcome the bugginess reputation Google’s Honeycomb platform build has suffered since its launch on the Xoom in February.

Google has been polishing this UI, rolling out versions 3.1 and 3.2 already, but it still has a lot of work to do to approach the fluid UI of Apple’s iPad – if that is even possible.