ByIngrid Wilhelmina 2019-05-24 1156
Mozilla sets the pace for Firefox updates. Following the so-called rapid release process, a major browser update appears every six weeks or so, raising the version number. If necessary, the manufacturer will add unscheduled updates to fix bugs or close security holes. With Firefox 67, a new major version of the popular Mozilla browser has now been released. The manufacturer is promoting the major browser update with a powerful speed boost, more efficient use of memory, and faster-launching add-ons. The following paragraphs explain the improvements Firefox 67 has on board for faster surfing and how the current Firefox update contributes to the improved protection of your privacy. You will also get an outlook on the new features of future Firefox updates. For those who like to reminisce, the review of previous Firefox versions at the end of this article is also a good idea.
The final Firefox version corresponds to the standard version of the browser and is aimed at the majority of Firefox users; Mozilla distributes it via the so-called release channel to hundreds of millions of users worldwide. It is currently version 67. To ensure that problems remain the exception, every major browser update undergoes a six-week beta test by voluntary users before being finalized. The company is currently working on Firefox 68. The preliminary version usually contains all the features planned for the final version and runs stable, as a Mozilla quality assurance team has checked it beforehand. However, it often has minor bugs and is therefore aimed at early adopters, who have no problem with it. With weekly updates, the manufacturer eliminates the flaws that the beta testers notice. What do Firefox users expect in the current final and beta versions? Please read on!
After Mozilla had to postpone the launch of Firefox 67 for a week due to problems with deactivated add-ons, the manufacturer started distributing the update to the final version on May 21, 2019. One focus of the new version is on tempo. The developers have reached deep into the bag of tricks and turned numerous adjusting screws under the hood. One measure concerns the so-called performance management of the browser. The makers have analyzed which areas of popular websites Firefox should display as quickly as possible and which can be processed more subordinated. As a result, the developers have prioritized less urgent functions more weakly so that all browser resources are initially available for the central content. For example, Firefox no longer loads the auto fill module as a whole, but only when there is really a form to fill out on the page. The browser will also only load alternative forms of web pages (alternative stylesheets) once the standard version has been completely loaded. Thanks to the browser's new time management, manufacturers promise to speed up Instagram, Amazon or Google search by 40 to 80 percent. There is also good news for fans of Firefox extensions. Again, Mozilla has worked on prioritizing the tasks and now promises a much faster start of the browser, as Firefox loads unimportant processes later. But that's not all. To reduce memory consumption, Firefox 67 comes with so-called standby tabs. This is particularly interesting for users who work with many tabs opened in parallel. If the browser detects that less than 400 megabytes of free memory is available, it deletes the data from tabs that have not been used for a longer period of time. If you later open one of these inactive tabs, the browser reloads the web page at the same location. This way, Mozilla promises that Firefox will not slow down the PC, even if many tabs are open. How much faster Firefox 67 works compared to Firefox 57 is demonstrated by an advertising clip of the manufacturer on YouTube.
The second focus of Firefox 67 is on new protection features. For this purpose, the manufacturer further drills into the browser's content blocking options and adds cryptoming and fingerprinting protection. The former is intended to prevent websites from abusing the PCs of their visitors in order to secretly generate crypto currencies. Browser fingerprinting is a series of perfidious methods used to identify users by their browser and PC - without relying on cookies or IP addresses. All available information - such as the installed browser version, plug-ins, languages used, screen resolution and operating system - is queried and evaluated. The sum of these characteristics makes it possible with a high degree of probability to recognize individual users. Newer techniques also allow the PC used to be uniquely identified by means of special graphic calculation (WebGL). The website Am I Unique? calculates the fingerprint of your browser on request and indicates how unique your surf configuration is. With the new protection function Firefox blocks such queries and thus makes the illumination of the user more difficult. However, the new protection functions are not activated by default. To change this, you must enable them in the browser settings under Privacy & Security and Custom.
For the technical implementation of the fingerprinting blocker, Mozilla relies on the mechanics of the Tor browser. In concrete terms, this involves the anti-fingerprint technology known as "letterboxing". As you can see in this video, the browser temporarily builds grey areas around the website as soon as the window size changes. Analysis tools of advertising networks, which read the window size, determine so wrong values. Since letterboxing generates the same wrong window sizes for all users, the read-out data is completely worthless. Once the analysis tool has transferred the information, the browser removes the grey areas again. The technology thus delays the adaptation of the browser content, but in practice this should only take a few milliseconds. Mozilla also works with Disconnect to defend against fingerprint and crypto miners.
Users expect further changes after the Firefox update in the private mode of the browser. The surf mode, which is designed to protect privacy, now offers some amenities. These include access to stored passwords. Advantage: Instead of constantly having to re-enter all access data, it is sufficient to enter and save the user name and password once. However, the advantages of the private mode are lost because the provider recognizes you based on your user profile. Another change concerns the use of extensions. If it was previously not possible to use add-ons in private mode, this changes with the update to Firefox 67. In the add-on settings, you specify which extensions are allowed in private mode and which are not.
Firefox relies on more graphic power & Co.
Not only in current games, but also in the browser the calculation of complex 3D graphics becomes more and more important. To prepare Firefox for the future, the developers have been working on a new WebRenderer for a long time. With the update to Firefox 67, it now lands with the first users. For the time being, the new graphics engine is only available for users who have installed Windows 10 and a graphics card from Nvidia, which corresponds to around 5 percent of Firefox users. In future updates, Mozilla also wants to unlock the WebRenderer for older Windows versions, macOS and Linux and support graphic chips from AMD and Intel. With AV1, Firefox has also supported the license-free video codec for high-resolution videos for some time now. Here, the manufacturer has now improved and delivers the more powerful decoder dav1d with the update to Firefox 67. There is good news for Firefox fans who want to use different versions - such as the final release and beta version. Because from Firefox 67, several Firefox installations can finally be run in parallel. There is bad news for users of the upload function of the Mozilla browser for screenshots: With the release of Firefox 67, the manufacturer switches off the cloud feature. With the current Firefox update, Mozilla also closes several security gaps.
Many users are annoyed by the penetrating demands on many pages. Here Mozilla wants to intervene in future updates and tame the flood of so-called web notifications. Background: More and more websites are relying on such notifications. These are intended to inform users about news on the website, but may only do so if the visitor agrees. The result: when surfing the Internet, pop-ups with corresponding queries are becoming more and more common. Many Firefox users are annoyed by this, as corresponding data surveys have shown: Only 3 percent accept the offer, while the majority of users reject it. In order to spare users' nerves, Mozilla does not want to allow such requests when a page is opened, but only as soon as the visitor interacts with the page. This means that there is no authorization request for notifications without a key or mouse click. Mozilla has now collected initial data in a study in order to better limit the problem.
The days of Flash are numbered - this is no surprise. After Adobe had announced the end of the multimedia software, Mozilla confirmed that he would stick to his plans to phase out Flash. According to senior engineering manager Jim Mathies, the software is disabled by default on Firefox 69. According to current planning, the corresponding update will be released at the beginning of September 2019. Anyone who then still wants to use Flash must reactivate the support in the settings. However, this won't work for long. Because at the beginning of 2020, the corresponding extension should finally disappear from the browser. Only the ESR version of Firefox supports Flash until the end of 2020.
In the course of its almost fifteen-year history, the Mozilla browser has undergone some changes. More recently, the Australis design of Firefox 29, which was originally highly controversial, and the quasi technical reinvention of the Quantum update in Firefox 57 deserve special mention.
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