Now that Mozilla has shipped Firefox 3.0 they have begun working on the next milestone that’s due out at the end of 2008. Firefox 3.1 Alpha (code named Shiretoko) is should be released on July 25th according to ZDNet, and the first Beta is expected as early as August.

The new release will have a decent number of new features, but most of them are designed to add some polish to the existing version of Firefox. Here are some things that you can expect to see before the final version makes it out the door:

  • Tag autocomplete
  • Bulk tagging support
  • A private browsing mode
  • Enhanced compatibility checking for add-on upgrades
  • “Awesomebar” improvements
  • More CSS3 properties
  • and more…

One thing that can already be found in the nightly builds of Firefox 3.1 is a new interface for switching between tabs using the Ctrl+Tab key combination. What you’ll see is a thumbnail preview of each tab as you switch between them. Here’s an animated screenshot that shows how this will work:

Firefox 3.1 Ctrl+Tab

The animation when switching between the tabs is pretty smooth, which is something you may not gather from the animated screenshot that I posted. This exact functionality, plus some, can already be attained by Firefox 3.0 users thanks to the Ctrl-Tab extension that served as a prototype for this.

It looks like Mozilla has given us something else to look forward to now. If you don’t feel like waiting you can jump over and grab the latest nightly release of Firefox 3.1 here, which is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.