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 55 is now in the stable channel. Improvements/changes include:
- Browsing sessions with a high number of tabs are now restored in an instant
- Sidebar (bookmarks, history, synced tabs) can now be moved to the right edge of the window
- Fine-tune your browser performance from the Preferences/Options page.
- Make screenshots of webpages, and save them locally or upload them to the cloud. This feature will undergo A/B testing and will not be visible for some users.
- Added Belarusian (be) locale
- Assign custom shortcuts to Firefox menu items on OS X and macOS via System Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts
- Simplify print jobs from within print preview
- Use virtual reality devices with the web with the introduction of WebVR
- Windows stub installer installs Firefox 64 bit by default for users on a 64 bit system with over 2 GB of RAM.
- Stereo microphones are now supported for WebRTC.
- Enable Hardware VP9 acceleration on Windows 10 Anniversary Edition. Get better battery life and lower CPU usage watching videos on machines with hardware support.