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

Mozilla Firefox logo
Mozilla Firefox logo
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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.

4 Comments

  1. Loosing the search bar was the stupidest thing IE and chrome ever did. If FF does the same there will be no usable browsers left 🙁 I sure hope they at least give users the possibility to opt out should they ever present such a defect.

  2. Sometimes I paste other text into the location bar (like passwords and other stuff), using it as a second clipboard. So I want this bars behaviour be other than the search bar, which I use for searching.
     
    If users would want all of the text they enter in the URL-bar be send to google for search behaviour analysis, they would use Chrome. Privacy-aware users use Firefox with it’s seperate search bar.

  3. I don’t know about these other folk… but personally i like putting text in a notepad
    (windows: ctrl + r “notepad”  and on most linux distros: alt + f2 “gedit” or “kate” or whatever… and you have an unlimited amount of space to keep the notes) when I’m done with it, I’ll just close it and not save. Problem solved 😀
     
    The Omnibar on chrom coupled with some extensions is really handy

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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+.