10 Things to Know About the New and Improved Firefox

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2014-04-30 Print this article Print

Mozilla has been taking a bit of a beating in the browser market as of late. While the browser is still quite popular, Google's Chrome continues to place pressure on Firefox, and it's entirely possible that without a solid lineup of updates in the coming years, Firefox will trail far behind Google's own browser. That such a possibility exists is perhaps concerning to the average Firefox user, but it doesn't seem to be bothering Mozilla. The company on April 29 unveiled a dramatically improved and redesigned Firefox—Version 29. The browser aims at placing Web content front and center and actually goes a long way in making it easier for the average user to find what they want and get surfing. One other important note: While the new Firefox doesn't include the Omnibox found in Chrome, allowing users to place addresses and searches in a single pane, it does speed up browsing with under-the-hood changes, which is arguably more important. Read on to find out more about the new and improved Firefox and why it might be such an appealing option for so many users.

  • 10 Things to Know About the New and Improved Firefox

    By Don Reisinger
    10 Things to Know About the New and Improved Firefox
  • A Much Nicer Design

    There's no debating the fact that the new Firefox, Firefox 29, comes with a much nicer design than the previous version. The design makes it easier to focus on Web pages by shedding all the extraneous menus and simplifies the tabbing process and menu access for novices and advanced users alike. Overall, the new Firefox is just a nicer-looking platform.
    A Much Nicer Design
  • More Customization

    Customization plays a crucial role in the new Firefox. Upon downloading the new browser, users can simply drag and drop different elements of the software design to get it just the way they like. Want to move the menu icons? Go for it. Looking to change the location bar or search box? No one is stopping you. Customization is central to Firefox's new look.
    More Customization
  • A Single Pane for Everything

    It's nice to see that Mozilla has taken a page out of Google's book by providing a single menu pane for all of the things users will want to see in their daily use of the software. Whether it's customizing different options or changing the browser's skin, anything and everything is accessible from a single menu pane. Simplicity is important in the browser space, and Firefox shows that.
    A Single Pane for Everything
  • A Better Sync

    Syncing bookmarks, history, add-ons and other information from one Firefox installation to another is somewhat difficult, due in large part to a password requirement. The new Firefox, however, comes with a new sync feature that lets users simply input their username and password and sync their information across devices. Firefox Accounts, a feature Mozilla rolled out months ago to users, makes syncing the browser extremely easy.
    A Better Sync
  • Full WebRTC Support

    This won't get much attention, but it should: Firefox now comes with full support for WebRTC. That feature allows users to make video calls from within Firefox, as well as share files between different browsers. So, if a user wants to send a file from Firefox to someone using a different browser, WebRTC allows for that. It's a great cross-platform feature that will be a welcome addition to Firefox.
    Full WebRTC Support
  • Bookmark Handling Is Improved

    Firefox has finally done a better job of improving bookmarks. Adding a page as a bookmark is as simple as hitting an icon within the browser, but right next to that is another place to look through all of the favorites a person has saved so far. It's now much easier to create bookmarks and manage them in Firefox.
    Bookmark Handling Is Improved
  • Tab Handling Has Gotten Better

    Tabs are obviously a big selling point for Firefox, so it's perhaps no surprise that they've also been updated in the new design. Tabs are no longer being squished as users add more and more pages to the single window. Instead, a finite number of tabs are shown, displaying full page titles. If users want to view other tabs, they'll need to either use arrows at either end of the tab bar or use their scroll wheel. That sounds like a good idea, but it should be interesting to see what the public thinks when it's put into practice.
    Tab Handling Has Gotten Better
  • Developers Will Be Happy

    Developers will be especially happy with what they find in the new Firefox. The new and improved browser comes with more than 30 Mozilla-designed application programming interfaces, as well as the Web Audio API to create new audio experiences within the browser. One other important feature: an App Manager for mobile developers to debug their programs. Nice.
    Developers Will Be Happy
  • An Eye on Android

    According to industry statistics, Mozilla's market share in the Android ecosystem is less than 1 percent. However, the new Firefox is designed to integrate nicely with Firefox for Android. The idea is to build out Firefox's presence in the Android space with help from the desktop version of Firefox. Whether it'll work, however, remains to be seen.
    An Eye on Android
  • An Eye on Chrome

    Looking at the new features in Firefox, including its improved design and developer offerings, the browser looks awfully similar to Google's Chrome. That's probably a good thing. According to NetMarketShare, the Firefox browser is watching its market share fall as Google's Chrome climbs. It's a good idea for Mozilla to catch up to Chrome on speed and usability before it's too late.
    An Eye on Chrome
Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.

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