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Firefox Quantum 69 strengthens default anti-tracking protection, can block all autoplay content

03 September 2019, Nick Peers

Mozilla has released Firefox Quantum 69.0 for desktop, along with Firefox for Android 68.1 and Firefox ESR 68.1.0.

The new release switches on Enhanced Tracking Protection features by default, extends block autoplay to cover all videos (not just those with sound) and improves performance on Windows 10 machines. The Android release marks the browser’s move to the ESR channel.

Firefox 69 builds on recent additions to its tracking protection features by adding cryptominers to its default Standard setting (previously only available under the Strict setting). Users must still select Strict if they wish to block fingerprinters.

Cryptominers are now blocked as standard in Firefox 69.

The Block Autoplay feature, previously only available for videos with sound, is now extended to block any video that attempts to automatically play (look for the new AutoPlay settings button under ‘Options > Privacy & Security > Permissions’).

Those using the en-us version of the browser will also see the ‘New Tab’ page has been updated to provide a convenient connection to Pocket’s content.

Windows 10 users gain several new features, including support for more password-less experiences using Windows Hello (May 1903 update required). Firefox will also proactively provide Windows with ‘hints’ on setting content process priority levels to potentially deliver a more responsive, faster experience. A shortcut has also been added to the Windows 10 taskbar.

MacOS users gain battery improvements on dual graphic-card MacBook Pros thanks to a more aggressive setting for switching back to the low-power GPU. Finder is also now capable of displaying progress bars for files being downloaded.

WebRTC conferencing services are also improved thanks to support for receiving multiple video codecs, while JIT support is extended to ARM64 for improved performance on those platforms.

As part of the general move to depreciate Flash, users can no longer set the plugin to always activate; instead Firefox will always prompt the user for permission before activating Flash web content.

Legacy customisations via userChrome.css and userContent.css are also depreciated, with neither being loaded at start-up to speed up load times. Set ‘toolkit.legacyUserProfileCustomizations.stylesheets’ to true under about:config to restore this functionality.

Firefox Preview is the new face of Firefox on Android.

Also released is Firefox for Android 68.1 as the browser moves to the ESR channel. Only one tweaked feature of note: Enhanced Tracking Protection is now switched on by default. It marks the beginning of the end for this iteration of Firefox on Android.

In its place users can now download Firefox Preview 1.3.1. This new browser is powered by Mozilla’s own GeckoView engine, a repackaged version of the Quantum browser engine (Gecko) and goes under the codename of Fenix. It promises to be up to twice as fast as previous versions of Firefox for Android, and users can already sync across settings from other devices. Once the browser exits preview and is deemed migration-ready, then the current Firefox for Android will reach end-of-life – for now, it’ll continue to be supported via the ESR channel.

Firefox Quantum 69.0 is available now as a free, open-source download for supported versions of Windows, Mac and Linux. Also released are Firefox ESR 68.1.0 and Firefox for Android 68.1, along with Firefox Preview 1.3.1, also for Android.

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