Mozilla has released the first screenshots of its forthcoming browser for Android tablets, revealing a novel way of handling browser tabs.
The browser is something of a halfway house between the company's mobile software and its full desktop browser.
The most striking part of the Firefox for Tablets user interface is the way it handles tabs. With the tablet held in landscape mode, tabs are displayed down the left-hand side of the browser window, with a small thumbnail of each site contained within the tab.
Mozilla's designers claim the user interface fully exploits the screen space afforded by tablets. "On Firefox for phones, we meticulously tucked away all of our UI elements to free up the screen for unrestricted browsing," explains Ian Barlow, visual designer for the Firefox mobile team, on his Building on Firefox Home blog.
"On a tablet, the bigger screen let us to bring some of those helpful elements back onto the screen, like tabs, for example. In landscape mode, tabs exist in a persistent left bar, allowing for quicker browsing. You can switch through tabs with your left thumb, and scroll through web content with your right."
When the tablet is thrust into portrait mode, however, the tabs are concertinered into a drop-down menu at the top of the browser window. "So whether you like keeping lots of tabs open and quickly switching back and forth between them, or if you prefer to just open a page and see nothing else on the screen, Firefox has you covered," Barlow claims.
Other features of Firefox for Tablets include the so-called "Awesome Bar", the browser's address bar, which will synchronise browsing history and bookmarks with a desktop version of Firefox.
The browser is also designed to blend in with the Android Honeycomb interface, although retains Firefox touches, such as the large back button.
Mozilla hasn't announced when the browser will be released.