Take Mozilla’s Firefox test

Mozilla wants user feedback on certain experimental features, before taking a call on what stays and what gets dumped in the research lab

Mozilla has a come up with a new feature called Firefox Test Pilot for desktop users of the Firefox web browser on Microsoft’s Windows, Apple’s Mac OS X and Linux. This will allow users to use and test experimental features which are otherwise works in progress, and provide their feedback. Developers at Firefox will factor in what a user thinks about a feature and hopefully create a better final product, or completely shelve something if the feedback is negative.

The test pilot has been launched with three new features—Activity Stream, Tab Centre and Universal Search.

How to access it?

To access Firefox Test Pilot, you need to log in to your Firefox account on the Firefox browser. Then head to www.testpilot.firefox.com and install the test pilot extension, which will take you to the home page. And here is how each of the features work.

Activity Stream

Activity Stream is designed to help users find their favourite sites, bookmarks and browsing history on the page of every new tab. The favourite sites and bookmarks are presented at the top. As you scroll down the page you can see a whole timeline of your Internet browsing on the same page, along with a tree of what you clicked on as well as the time. This saves the need to go to the history page, the way we usually do in other web browsers.

Universal Search

This feature shows more specific recommendations for any search term that you type in the address bar. It will throw up specific or popular website page links on the searched word. For example, search for the word “cricket", and Universal Search will show up relevant options such as cricket news, cricket scores and cricket schedules.

Tab Centre

The third new feature rearranges the position of the tabs in such as a way that they it is a lot easier for users to open and toggle through them. So, instead of showing the tabs on the top, it shows in a hidden panel on the left side of the screen. Just move your mouse to the left side of the screen and a side bar will slide out, with all your open tabs listed in a vertical order.

In case you find any of these not working properly or you are not interested in them anymore, you can be disable them easily. To do so just click on the respective icon on the top right hand side of the Firefox browser window and select disable button on the page that opens next. Mozilla suggests that three tools we see at present are just the beginning, and many more will show up under the test pilot project in the weeks to come.

While we have seen browser companies launch beta versions of their mobile browser apps so they can use user feedback to improve them, this is the first instance when a desktop browser will be relying on user feedback to test new features that will be added to the browser itself.