Firefox 15 has arrived, but where’s its Omnibox?

August 28, 2012

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Firefox 15 has arrived with a number of welcome improvements but it’s still missing one key element of the modern day internet browser – a unified address bar and search box.

Chrome’s Omnibox has been a key feature of Google’s browser since launching in September 2008. Internet Explorer followed with OneBox in IE9 and most recently Safari’s Omnibar has arrived with the release of version 6.

Today’s release from Firefox brings it more on par with Google Chrome – the world’s most popular browser – with newly introduced features like background updates and enhancements to its support of 3D rendering technology WebGL, but still no FireBar (can we call it that?).

What Chrome has taught us over the past four years is that simplicity wins. With Omnibox, Chrome forced us to rethink how we use the browser, a behavioural change that has now become the standard for other developers to abide by.

Granted, with Firefox 15 and some previous versions, users can type a search term in the address bar and, if an internet address isn’t recognised, a search is performed using the default search engine. This isn’t that intuitive though.

A Firefox add-on, Omnibar, installed by over 42,000 users unifies address lookup and search, illustrating the Firefox community’s appetite for such functionality.

That one important feature aside, Firefox 15 introduces more HTML5 support and perhaps most importantly optimised memory usage for add-ons, so the browser should be easier to run.

Firefox has a lot of work to do if it wants to regain the market share it’s been steadily losing to Chrome over the past three years.

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Darren McCarra

Darren McCarra is co-editor of The Sociable. He has a keen interest in photography, all things mobile, and writing about technology and social media. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

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