What's New in Firefox?
Firefox 11 was officially released on March 13, 2012. It's the third major update of the browser since December. If you haven't bothered to update Firefox lately, here is what you've missed...
Is Your Firefox Browser Up to Date?
In the past, Firefox releases were usually a year or more apart, and when a new version became available, the masses cheered and danced in the streets with reckless abandon. But last June, starting with Firefox 5, Mozilla decided to switch things up with an every-six-weeks release cycle. Here is a summary of what's new in the most recent versions of Firefox:
Firefox 10, released in January, saw improvements mainly aimed at Web developers. One user-oriented change of significance was the "disappearance" of the Forward button on the main menu bar. It's still there, but it appears only after the Back button has been pressed; until then, there is no page to which one can page Forward. (Oddly, the Forward button does not appear when the preference for small toolbar icons is set.)
Firefox 10 also addresses add-on compatibility in two ways. All add-ons that are compatible with Firefox 4 will be left enabled by Firefox 10. No longer will your favorite add-ons become unavailable until their developers update them for the latest Firefox version. Second, Firefox 10 added daily checks for add-on updates.
The full-screen API is supported by Firefox 10 and later versions. This feature of HTML5 allows developers to specify that a Web page should take up the full screen. You may have seen applications of the full-screen API in video streaming and gaming sites.
Firefox 11, the latest version, adds the ability to sync your collection of add-ons across multiple devices and operating systems. So when you add a cool new add-on to your desktop Firefox browser, you can be sure it will show up on your laptop, and the Android smartphone's Firefox browser the next time you use it. Any custom settings you've made are also synced. Additionally, Firefox 11 can import bookmarks, history lists, and other data from Chrome. Touché, Mr. Google.
Speaking of Google Chrome, you might want to check out my related articles Is Chrome the Best Browser? and Ten Awesome Chrome Browser Addons. I'm currently using both Firefox and Chrome on my dual screen setup, and it's working well.
Generally, I like to see software advance at a rapid rate, with bug fixes and anxiously awaited new features coming sooner. But there have been a few problems with this strategy.
First, since people have been conditioned to expect new browser versions only once a year or so, they tend to treat these rapidly released "major versions" as minor updates. We tire of installing new software every few months, and are wary of having to learn a new user interface. We worry that a new release may contain bugs that will bite us. It's always been my advice to tell people to wait a month or two before installing a new browser version, so that the inevitable bugs can be addressed by the developers. But with new releases every six weeks, this strategy doesn't work.
Another issue is that Firefox has always assumed that your add-ons from one version will be incompatible with the new version. I can't tell you how many times I hesitated to upgrade to a new version of Firefox because it would always disable my Roboform add-on, and I'd have to wait days or weeks before my password manager was updated to work with the new browser. But as I mentioned above, starting with Firefox V10, this has changed. Add-ons are now considered compatible with new versions by default, so this problem is largely solved. Why "largely"? Well, of course there are a few exceptions to every rule. My LogMein add-on for Firefox is one of those, which got flagged by both Firefox 10 and 11 upgrades.
It may seem that you haven't missed much by neglecting to update Firefox during the past four months. True, there have not been any game-changing enhancements, but there have been hundreds of invisible bug fixes, security updates, and tweaks that improve the browser's overall performance. If you have not updated Firefox regularly, you should try to catch up. It's easy.
Just click on the Help tab on Firefox's main menu. On the drop-down menu, click "About Firefox" to open that information window and check for updates. If a later version of Firefox is available, it will start downloading automatically. And you can always go to GetFirefox.com to download the latest version.
Are you still using Firefox 3? Got something to say about Firefox? Wanna brag about YOUR favorite browser? Go ahead, post your comment or question below...
Posted by Bob Rankin on 15 Mar 2012
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- What's New in Firefox? (Posted: 15 Mar 2012)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved