At the same time, Mozilla is readying the final release of Thunderbird 18, a minor update to its email messaging tool. The most notable new feature here will be support for zoom in the compose window.
Firefox OS is coming this year and we have already seen some early previews. In order to hit the ground running these days any operating system, be it desktop or mobile, needs a healthy app ecosystem. To that end, Mozilla today announced "App Days", a series of events around the world that are designed to get developers excited and moving for this upcoming release.
In the announcement, Mozilla's Mark Coggins explains that at "each App Day event, you’ll have the opportunity to learn, hack and celebrate Firefox OS, Mozilla’s open source operating system for the mobile web. Technologists and developers from Mozilla will present tools and technology built to extend and support the Web platform, including mobile Web APIs to access device hardware features such as the accelerometer".
If there's one word that best describes my personal tech use for 2012, change is definitely it. For the most part of the year I "cheated" one platform with another, with no particular personal favorite to get me through (almost) 365 days. Each piece of software and hardware is used for a particular scenario, something that I find rather soothing for my personal early adopter endeavors as well as my sanity. I just can't stand tinkering with the same bit of tech for longer periods of time, although there still is a dear old friend in my life...
My colleagues Alan Buckingham and Wayne Williams already wrote about their personal tech choices in 2012, and now it's my turn. Without further ado here is what I used most throughout the year, starting with my trusty dear old friend.
Parent company Mozilla announced that Firefox for Android now supports older green droid devices using ARM v6 architecture. The latest update allows the open-source browser to run on smartphones such as HTC Status, Motorola Fire XT or Samsung Galaxy Ace, but also looks to the present with improvements for newer versions of Android.
Mozilla claims that limiting Firefox for Android to run solely on the ARM v7 architecture would eliminate "roughly half of the nearly 500 million Android phones", obviously making a dent in its market share and popularity among green droid users. The minimum hardware requirements now involve an 800MHz ARM v6 processor accompanied by 512MB of RAM. What about less "ancient" devices?
Mozilla has launched Firefox 17 FINAL, the latest stable release of its open-source, cross-platform web browser. Version 17 has one major new feature -- click-to-play blocklisting, which prevents vulnerable plugins from running without the user’s permission.
Other changes include a slight tweak to the Awesome Bar, additional developer tools and web standards, plus fixes and performance improvements. The new release comes on the same day that rival browser Opera 12.11 gets a minor update.
Mozilla is moving forward with the Firefox OS plans, even though odds are not in its favor. The open-source organization released a prototype simulator for the in-house operating system, which gives a glimpse of what potential customers should expect. All the action happens in a small Firefox window.
Mozilla did not release a standalone application, but instead the Firefox OS is available as an extension for the popular open-source browser. Firing up the new operating system is done with a simple flick of the Simulator toggle, and for easier control there are some keyboard shortcuts assigned to physical button operations. Users can experiment with Firefox OS straight from the lockscreen, so let's take a peek.
The lockscreen looks similar to earlier versions of Android. There is the typical slider to open camera or unlock the phone on top of the date and time. The interface is pretty basic in the camera department, but this is just a glimpse in the stable Firefox OS.
The kids grow up so fast, don't they?
It seems like only yesterday I began using Firefox, but Mozilla has reminded us that today is the eighth birthday of its Firefox browser. Those eight years, while seeming to have flown by, have had their smooth parts as well as their bumpy. The story of the "little browser that could" all began on November 9th 2004.
"The Mozilla Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving choice and promoting innovation on the Internet, today announced the worldwide availability of the Mozilla Firefox 1.0 web browser." wrote Mozilla on this day in 2004.
The Firefox Developer Toolbar is a new tool that landed last month in the stable version of the web browser. It is a console that enables you to issue commands right from the page you are on, and while it has been designed with developers in mind, it makes available features that regular Firefox users can utilize as well.
The basic idea here is to use the Developer Toolbar for things that you normally handle using the menus the browser makes available or third-party tools. To display the toolbar in Firefox press Shift-F2. This opens a small toolbar at the bottom of the browser window. If you want to close it again, either use the same keyboard shortcut to do so or the close icon on the right side of the toolbar.
Almost four months ago the European Commission opened an investigation after Microsoft failed to distribute the browser ballot to Windows users. The problem, according to the Redmond, Wash.-based corporation, only affected 10 percent of PCs, but Mozilla says there's more to it than meets the eye. Microsoft claims a glitch, lasting 18 months, caused the ballot to disappear.
Harvey Anderson, who works at Mozilla on business and legal affairs, revealed some numbers that portray the impact on Mozilla Firefox downloads. Prior to Microsoft fixing the problem daily downloads of the popular open-source browser decreased by 63 percent to 20,000 per day. After Microsoft decided to fix the issue the number of Mozilla Firefox downloads increased by 150 percent to 50,000 per day. The European Commission isn't overly excited by what happened, and sent Redmond a "statement of objections". That usually implies that a fine is underway...
Hot on the heels of Mozilla pulling the latest stable release from its download servers after discovering a security vulnerability, Firefox 16.0.1 FINAL has now been released. Those who had already upgraded to version 16 should upgrade automatically now the updated version is available. Full details about the vulnerability can be found here.
In the meantime, Mozilla has updated all pre-release versions of the popular cross-platform, open-source browser to versions 17 (Beta), 18 (Aurora) and 19 (Nightly/Elm/UX) respectively. Once again, confirmed changes are thin on the ground, although the recent release of the “Elm” branch of Firefox Nightly, previewing the new Modern UI-based version of Firefox for Windows 8, is a noteworthy addition.
Only two days after announcing Firefox 16, Mozilla removed the browser in response to a security vulnerability affecting all early installations.
Mozilla warns that the flaw allows a malicious website to "potentially" determine where Firefox 16 users have been and to gain access to the URL or URL parameters. The open-source group says it had no knowledge of the exploit and as a safety measure recommends that anyone who installed Firefox 16 should "downgrade" to Firefox 15.0.1 and wait for the browser to be upgraded to the new, fixed, version.
In Chrome, you’d click on a PDF link, and it would open in Chrome: do the same in Firefox, and it would save the PDF to disk instead. Incredibly annoying. The development of a built-in PDF previewer was welcome news to my ears, but having appeared in Firefox 15 Beta, it disappeared from the final version. The good news is that it’s there, and you can switch it on. If you know how.
Microsoft's Internet Explorer was the uncrowned king back in 2008 with Mozilla's Firefox snagging away half a percent or so from IE's market share each month. Mozilla in that year released Firefox 3.0, a controversial version of the browser that divided the browser's user base into the Firefox 2.x and 3.x camp. Microsoft released Internet Explorer 8, a version of the browser that still fell short in many areas even though it was seen by many as a huge improvement over the company's previously released Internet browsers.
And in that year came the first public release of Google Chrome for Windows, and with it fundamental changes to the web browser landscape. Chrome's impact in the browser's first year of existence was limited, and while Google managed to increase the market share over the important 1 percent mark in 2008, it took the company another year to surpass Opera and Safari to take the coveted number three spot for the first time near the end of 2009.
In addition to releasing Firefox and Thunderbird 15 Tuesday, Mozilla also released a new version of Firefox for Android tablets running ICS and Honeycomb!
Last year, I put together a list of what I believed were the ten best apps for Android Honeycomb, and I included both the Dolphin Browser and Opera Mobile in the list. At the time, not even the Nightly build of Firefox was available for Honeycomb devices. That did not come until five months later, and it was still in a very early UI form.
The recent release of Firefox 14 FINAL means the whole developmental cycle has moved on again, and as expected versions 15 (Beta), 16 (Aurora) and 17 (Nightly/UX) of Mozilla’s web browser have made their first appearances. Version 14 was a relatively minor release after the excitement of version 13, but versions 15 and 16 both promise some exciting new features as we reveal below.
Get a head’s up on what’s coming and discover which build is best for your personal needs with our updated guide to what the future holds in store for Firefox.