Mozilla Releases Firefox 57 ‘Quantum’ Web Browser

Mozilla on Tuesday officially announced Firefox 57, the new "Quantum" version of its flagship desktop web browser for Mac, Linux, and Windows. Aside from a redesigned interface and a slew of new UI features, Mozilla says Quantum offers speeds twice as fast as Firefox 52 and a new engine that uses 30 percent less memory than Google Chrome.


The performance advantages are said to be down to Firefox's "just right" multi-process architecture, which uses separate processes to run its user interface and tabbed web page content. These additional processes are able to run across multiple CPU cores, making it much less likely for open web pages to negatively impact each other or the performance of the web browser in general.

While both Firefox and Chrome now run using multiple processes, Mozilla claims to have done things differently to avoid using up precious working memory. Chrome creates a separate content process for each open tab, and each tab typically consumes hundreds of megabytes of RAM, which has earned the browser a reputation as a resource hog.


Where Quantum differs, claims Mozilla, is in its more conservative approach to using multiple processes. By default, Firefox now creates up to four separate processes for web page content, so the first four tabs each use those four processes, and additional tabs run using threads within those processes. This leads to multiple tabs within a process sharing the browser engine that already exists in memory, instead of each one creating their own.


In addition to the under-the-hood improvements, the redesigned "Photon" user interface offers a less cluttered, more minimalist environment for browsing the web and aims to look better on modern high DPI displays. It also adds several new features including a built-in tool to take screenshots, and a new library for putting things like browsing history, bookmarks, Pocket lists, and synced tabs in one convenient place.

Firefox 57 also includes support for WebVR, which enables websites to take full advantage of VR headsets like the HTC Vive, while Mozilla's Pocket service is now more integrated in the browser and displays trending articles on the new tab page. Last but not least, a new feature called Tracking Protection blocks extensive requests for online user tracking. It works by default in the Private browsing window and Mozilla reckons it reduces the average page loading time by around 44 percent.


With all the changes, Firefox has had to lose support for many existing extensions written in XUL. Firefox Quantum only supports WebExtensions, which have more limitations, similar to Chrome extensions. Existing users can check the status of their extensions by navigating to Menu -> Add-Ons. Compatible ones are shown under "Extensions", while deactivated browser extensions appear under "Legacy Extensions" alongside an option to find the closest equivalent replacement available.

If you're already a Firefox user, you should receive an automatic upgrade to Quantum after restarting the browser. For everyone else, Firefox Quantum is available for macOS as a free download directly from the Mozilla website.


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Mozilla Releases Firefox 10 for iOS With New ‘Photon’ UI, Tracking Protection, and More

Mozilla released version 10 of its Firefox browser for iOS on Wednesday. With a new look the developers have dubbed "Photon", the update represents the Quantum release for mobile, boasting the same performance advantages as its forthcoming equivalent for desktops.

The more modern design aims to put users' needs first, with rearranged menus for easier access to the most-used features and an updated minimalist look.

A new application menu now sits at the bottom of the interface, providing quick links to top sites, bookmarks, reading list, history, Settings, and one-click options to enable Night Mode and hide images.

Elsewhere, a Page actions menu can be found in the address bar, containing frequently used actions like share, sync, or save content for later, as well as page search, pin site, and bookmark options.


In addition, the new tab screen has been overhauled, with icons that link to top sites from around the web and popular articles on Pocket, as well as pages you've recently visited or bookmarked.

Firefox will now show popular search suggestions by default as you type, while the QR code reader button has been moved up next to the address bar to make it easier to find. Also included in this release is Firefox's "Tracking Protection" privacy technology, which the company developed to mitigate invasive tracking of online activity.

Firefox 10 on iOS is a free download for iPhone and iPad available on the App Store. [Direct Link] The desktop version of Firefox Quantum is set for release on November 14.


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Firefox 55 Browser Gains Screenshot Utility, WebVR, and New Performance Features

Mozilla released Firefox 55 for macOS on Wednesday, touting new performance settings, faster speeds, several new features including a screenshot utility, and the addition of WebVR support.

Firefox 55's major front end feature is Firefox Screenshots, accessed via a new screenshots icon on the toolbar. The feature allows users to capture a region of a web page by clicking and dragging a selection manually, or allowing Screenshots to capture one for them simply by hovering over the page element.

It's also possible to capture a full page view without scrolling, and selections can be saved to an online Screenshots library, shared, and downloaded. Mozilla says Firefox Screenshots will be a gradual rollout so not everyone will see it immediately.

Meanwhile, WebVR is the big platform feature shipping in Firefox 55 that allows users with an HTC Vive or Oculus Rift to experience VR content on the web. Although the feature is currently only available to Windows users, there's good reason to believe that macOS support is on Mozilla's roadmap, given that Apple developers have recently joined the WebVR open community initiative.

In addition to the above, Firefox 55 promises users a dramatic performance improvement in session restores with large numbers of tabs, an option to fine-tune browser performance with e10s multi-settings, a new click-to-activate Flash Player, search suggestions in the Awesomebar enabled by default, and a modernized update system.

Firefox 55 is a free download for macOS and can be directly from the Mozilla website.


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Firefox 8.0 for iOS Brings New Tab Experience, Night Mode, and QR Code Reader

Mozilla has released Firefox 8.0 for iOS with several notable new features including a Night Mode, a built-in QR code reader, and a redesigned tab experience.

Changes to the web browser's tabs mean users now see recently visited sites whenever they open up a new one, combined with highlights from previous web visits. Mozilla says this change in particular will be rolled out to users gradually over the next few weeks.


As for the new Night Mode, this refers to a web page brightness dimming feature for easier reading in dark environments, rather than a darkened interface as such.

Version 8.0 of the browser also introduces Feature Recommendations, which are basically hints and time-saving tips to help users improve their Firefox experience. In addition, it's also now possible to send a web page or tab to another Firefox-synced device, across both desktop and mobile devices.

Other smaller tweaks to the app include yMail as one of the supported email clients, the password manager now has improved login page detection, and when users copy a link Firefox will now prompt them to open it, rather than having to paste it in manually.

Firefox 8.0 web browser is a free download for iPhone and iPad available on the App Store. [Direct Link]


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Firefox 54 Promises Faster Browsing on Macs With Limited RAM

Mozilla yesterday announced the release of Firefox 54 web browser with new multi-process architecture that promises to make browsing with multiple tabs open faster and more stable, especially on computers with 8GB of memory or less.

With the latest release, Firefox uses up to four processes to run web page content across all open tabs. This means that a heavy, complex web page in one tab has a much lower impact on the responsiveness and speed of other tabs, according to Mozilla:
The old Firefox used a single process to run all the tabs in a browser. Modern browsers split the load into several independent processes. We named our project to split Firefox into multiple processes 'Electrolysis' (or E10s) after the chemical process that divides water into its core elements. E10s is the largest change to Firefox code in our history. Besides running faster and crashing less, E10S makes websites feel more smooth. Even busy pages, like Facebook newsfeeds, spool out smoothly and cleanly.


In Mozilla's own tests comparing memory usage for various browsers, it claimed that Firefox used significantly less RAM in macOS than both Safari and Chrome. The group has published an article on Medium explaining how the new E10s architecture works.

In one section titled "Why Chrome gets too hot when Firefox does not", Mozilla writes that Chrome's method of creating separate processes for each open tab can end up with each one consuming hundreds of megabytes of RAM, whereas Firefox reuses processes and content engines to limit memory usage.
By default, Firefox now creates up to 4 separate processes for web page content. So, your first 4 tabs each use those 4 processes, and additional tabs run using threads within those processes. Multiple tabs within a process share the browser engine that already exists in memory, instead of each creating their own.
Mozilla claims that Firefox's considerate memory usage means users with 8GB of memory or less can browse the web without the browser hogging resources, allowing them to do other things on their computer. Meanwhile, users with more than 8GB of RAM can bump up the number of content processes that Firefox uses to make it even faster.
To change the number of content processes Firefox uses, enter about:config in your address bar, and adjust the number for the dom.ipc.processCount setting (we'll be exposing a visible preference for this in an upcoming release).
Users can test out the claims by downloading Firefox 54 for free from the Mozilla website.


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Firefox 52 Announced With ‘Game Changing’ Support For Complex Web Apps

Mozilla has heralded the release of a new version of Firefox that it says enables resource-intensive web content like games, apps, and image-editors to run in a browser window at previously unachievable native speeds.

To accomplish the feat, Firefox 52 supports Web Assembly, a new standard developed by Mozilla, which it calls "a game changer for the web".


WebAssembly allows complex apps, like games, to run faster than ever before in a web browser. We expect that WebAssembly will enable applications that have historically been too complex to run fast in browsers – like immersive 3D video games, computer-aided design, video and image editing, and scientific visualization. We also expect that developers will use WebAssembly to speed up many existing web apps.
Mozilla has posted a video, embedded below, that demonstrates the WebAssembly standard and WebGL 2 in action, with the help of an 3D environment rendered in real-time using the Unreal 4 Engine.

In addition to Web Assembly, the update adds automatic detection of "captive portals" often used by hotel wifi networks that require the user to log in before they can access the web.

Mozilla has also built contextual alerts into input fields to warn users when they're prompted to enter username and password information on a page that isn't encrypted with HTTPS.

Other additions to this version of Firefox include CSS Grid, a Grid Inspector developer tool, and automatic disabling of plugins that use the Netscape Plugin API (NPAPI) besides Flash.

Firefox 52 is a free download for the Mac.




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Mozilla Acquires Read-it-Later App Pocket

Mozilla today announced it has acquired read-it-later app Pocket, which it says has 10 million unique monthly active users on iOS, Android, and the web. The app, formerly known as Read It Later, launched in 2007 and is integrated in services such as Flipboard and Twitter. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.


Pocket will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Mozilla Corporation and will become part of the Mozilla open source project, the company said. Pocket's core employees and technology will help accelerate its Context Graph initiative, while promoting the discovery and accessibility of high quality web content.

Mozilla CEO Chris Beard:
“We believe that the discovery and accessibility of high quality web content is key to keeping the internet healthy by fighting against the rising tide of centralization and walled gardens. Pocket provides people with the tools they need to engage with and share content on their own terms, independent of hardware platform or content silo, for a safer, more empowered and independent online experience.”
Mozilla and Pocket worked together to integrate the service within Firefox in 2015, and this acquisition will allow the teams to work more closely together.

Mozilla's acquisition follows in the footsteps of Instapaper, one of Pocket's biggest rivals, which was acquired by Pinterest in August 2016.

Tags: Mozilla, Pocket

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‘Firefox Focus’ Private Browser Update Brings Multi-Language Support, Custom Search Engine Option

Mozilla has added more than 20 new languages to Firefox Focus, its privacy-centric browser that automatically blocks all trackers as users navigate around the web.

The latest update to the stripped-down web browser – which features an "Erase" button at the top of the app to erase all browsing history, searches, cookies, and passwords instantly – means users can now browse privately in 27 languages.

focus-firefox-0-0
The additional support includes Arabic, Azerbaijani, Czech, Welsh, German, Spanish, French, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Dutch, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil), Russian, Slovak, Swedish, Turkish, Ukrainian, Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese, among many other tongues.

One of the complaints about the previous version of Focus was that it forced users to use a default search engine. Mozilla says it's listened to criticism and added a new option that allows users to select an alternative search service, which includes non-tracking engine DuckDuckGo.

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When using Focus's most stringent tracker blocking setting, occasionally some sites visited in the app may fail to display as intended, making viewing content difficult. To compensate for this, Mozilla has also added a new button that allows users to open the web page in Firefox or Safari instead.

The first incarnation of the Focus brand came in 2015 in the form of a content blocker for iOS 9. In November of last year, Mozilla launched Focus as a fully functioning privacy browser.

Firefox Focus is available to download from the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

Tag: Mozilla

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