Mozilla has announced the release of Firefox 3.1 Alpha 1, "Shiretoko," for developers and testers. Built on the pre-release version of the Gecko 1.9.1 platform, Shiretoko includes a variety of new features.
The open source browser now gives users more precise control over search results in the Smart Location Bar. For example, results can be limited to show only a user's history and not any unvisited bookmarks. Improvements have also been make in Keyword and Smart Keyword Bookmark functions. The changes allow users to reduce the number hits and more accurately target searches.
The build includes a new tab-switching behavior that will force some users to change their habits. In the current version of FIrefox, Control-Tab opens up the next browser tab. Shiretoko changes this behavior, opening up a "filmstrip view" of a user's most-recently visited tabs. Pressing Tab repeatedly while holding down the Control key cycles through the various Tabs in a filmstrip. Developers say the filmstrip addition is a step toward "increased visual navigation and content organization."(Users who simply want to advance to the next tab can use Control-Page Down instead of Control-Tab).
Mozilla Firefox 3.1 Alpha one is "intended developers and testers only" and is available now as a free download. Shiretoko requires Mac OS X 10.4 or higher, and runs on Power PC or Intel Macs.