Via Mike Beltzner, I see that there are some cool new UI enhancements in the upcoming beta of Firefox 3.
First, the download manager has been completely re-written. A few weeks ago, I complained that uploading and downloading are seams in the web experience. One of the things I suggested was that the download window should allow drag-and-drop. Lo and behold, the new Firefox 3 download manager does! Check out the mockup, or bug 397655 for more details.
Second, Firefox 3 is introducing a new scheme called Places which is “a new system for storing bookmarks, history, and other information about pages.” One of the cool new UI enhancements related to Places is what’s being called the “awesome bar“. In Firefox 2 (as well as most other web browsers), when you type into the location bar, it autocompletes using pages from your history. When you get accustomed to it, it’s a great feature, because going to one of your commonly-visited sites is as quick as typing a few characters and then hitting tab. The awesome bar basically takes this functionality to the next level: it autocompletes from your history and your bookmarks, it searches all through the URL and the title (as opposed to just the start of the URL), and it’s adaptive. Edward Lee’s got a full description.
Overall, I’m really glad to see Firefox again taking the lead in the user experience side of things. Alex Faaborg has a list of some other user-facing changes planned for Firefox 3. That post is few months old though, so plans may have changed substantially since then.
Beta 1 should be dropping soon; I can’t wait to try it out.