Firefox 3.1 Experiments with Gesture Support
Article by George Norman
On 28 Oct 2008
The good news is that the Beta version of Firefox 3.1 has a gesture support feature, meaning that you can perform various actions (zoom in, go back, next tab) with a simple hand movement (swipe, pinch, twist). The bad news is that the feature will only work on the brand spanking new MacBook from Apple (2008 MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, Aluminum MacBook). The other bad news is that Mozilla has not yet announced that it will make this a standard feature in the final Firefox 3.1 version – since this is merely a Beta version, dropping the Gesture Support feature in the final version is always a possibility.

There are three gesture categories: swiping, pinching and twisting. In the swipe category, here are the actions and the attributed hand gestures: go back in history = swipe left; go forward in history = swipe right; move towards the top of the page = swipe up; move towards the bottom of the page = swipe down. In the pinch category there are only two actions – when you pinch together you will zoom in, and when you pinch apart you will do the opposite (zoom out). In the twist category there are also just two actions that you can perform – to access the next tab, just twist right; doing the opposite, twisting left, will access the previous tab.


For those of you that do not understand what swiping, twisting or pinching means, here is a brief description. When you take three fingers and move them in any direction on the trackpad, it means that you are performing a swipe. When you take two fingers and rotate them, you are doing a twist. Pinching together means that you have to move two of your fingers closer to one another (pinching apart is the exact opposite).

It must be noted that the Mozilla Firefox version that supports this feature is a pre-Beta 2 one, which means that it has the potential to be unstable (but it is more stable than the pre-beta 1 version that was launched earlier this month).

Tags: Apple, MacBook, Firefox, Mozilla
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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