Last month I wrote about a new Firefox feature in development called Tab Candy and I was pretty bullish about it. I wrote, “Launching Firefox 4 with Tab Candy should be Mozilla’s top priority.” I also had a bunch of readers who agreed with me and, after seeing the visuals of Tab Candy, responded with messages like, “I want this NOW.”

I’m pleased to report that Tab Candy has been officially named “Firefox Panorama” and has been included in the latest build of the Firefox 4 Beta. It’s definitely going to be a part of the popular open source Web browser — in fact, it’s Firefox’s best new feature, maybe even a killer feature that could win back some power users from Google Chrome.

Not all of the concepts that Mozilla’s Head of UX Aza Raskin talked about in his Tab Candy reveal in July have made it into the official version of Firefox Panorama, but the core feature — being able to group tabs together and having an OS-like interface to quickly jump between tab groups — is now going to be part of the next Firefox.

Raskin has a detailed blog post in which he lays out how and why the Firefox team developed Panorama, including the basic design principles. Some of the design issues he mentioned included:

  • Harness the power of spatial memory
  • Seeing is remembering
  • Minimize required interactivity
  • Remove distractions: out of sight, out of mind

Here’s minute-and-a-half video clip in which Raskin explains what you’ll see in the new Firefox Panorama:

You can download the Firefox 4 Beta if you’d like to take Panorama out for a spin.