Not everyone gets by with the default browser on their computer, and when it comes to picking an alternative, Firefox is one of the most popular out there, having clawed back support from upstart rivals like Google Chrome and Opera in recent years by switching to a rapid release cycle, ensuring major new versions of the browser are released every six weeks.
It’s true to say that individual updates often fail to deliver anything substantial, but cumulatively they roll together to produce a web browser that is radically different to the one – version 4 – that marked the start of a new era back in 2011.
Some of the landmark new features we’ve seen include a per-site Permissions Manager, enhanced Sync options, tabs on demand, silent updates and add-on enhancements. We also saw the launch of specific development branches including UX, which has led to the new Australis user interface, which sees a streamlined tab, revamped menu and customisation features.
And underpinning this all are a constantly evolving set of performance improvements, standards support (HTML5 and CSS3 are constantly being added to, for instance) and bug fixes.
Firefox 52 is now in the stable channel. Improvements/changes include:
- Added support for WebAssembly, an emerging standard that brings near-native performance to Web-based games, apps, and software libraries without the use of plugins.
- Added automatic captive portal detection, for easier access to Wi-Fi hotspots. When accessing the Internet via a captive portal, Firefox will alert users and open the portal login page in a new tab.
- Implemented the Strict Secure Cookies specification which forbids insecure HTTP sites from setting cookies with the "secure" attribute. In some cases, this will prevent an insecure site from setting a cookie with the same name as an existing "secure" cookie from the same base domain.
- Added user warnings for non-secure HTTP pages with logins. Firefox now displays a “This connection is not secure” message when users click into the username and password fields on pages that don’t use HTTPS.
- Enabled multi-process Firefox for Windows users with touch screens
- Enhanced Sync to allow users to send and open tabs from one device to another.