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 59 is now in the stable channel. Improvements/changes include:
- Improved faster load times for content on the Firefox Home page
- Improved faster page load times by loading either from the networked cache or the cache on the user’s hard drive (Race Cache With Network)
- Improved graphics rendering using Off-Main-Thread Painting (OMTP) for Mac users (OMTP for Windows and Linux was released in Firefox 58)
- Implemented drag-and-drop to rearrange Top Sites on the Firefox Home page, and customize new windows and tabs in other ways-
- Firefox Screenshots: Basic annotation lets the user draw on and highlight saved screenshots
- Firefox Screenshots: Recropping to change the viewable area of saved screenshots
- Enhanced WebExtensions API including better support for decentralized protocols and the ability to dynamically register content scripts
- Implemented RTP Transceiver to give pages more fine grained control over calls
- Implemented features to support large scale conferences
- Added support for W3C specs for pointer events and improved platform integration with added device support for mouse, pen, and touch screen pointer input
- Added the Ecosia search engine as an option for German Firefox
- Added the Qwant search engine as an option for French Firefox
- Added settings in about:preferences to stop websites from asking to send notifications or access your device’s camera, microphone, and location, while still allowing trusted websites to use these features