Firefox 14 Browser Offers Secure Google Searches

One of the most appreciated improvements in Version 14 of Mozilla Firefox is that Google searches will now by default use a secure HTTPS connection to protect searches from prying eyes.

Users of Mozilla Firefox 14 will now have a more secure Web browsing experience compared with other browsers since the latest version of the open-source browser conducts all Google searches using a secure HTTPS connection by default.

The tighter Google search security is among a myriad of updates and improvements in the latest Firefox release, which is now available for public download.

The move to tighten security during Google searches resulted from concerns about others being able to see what you are searching, according to Mozilla's blog.

"We automatically make your Google searches secure in Firefox to protect your data from potentially prying eyes, like network administrators when you use public or shared WiFi networks," the blog post stated. "Google is currently the only search engine that allows Firefox to make your searches private, but we look forward to supporting additional search engines with this feature in the future."

The new encryption feature was unveiled in May by Mozilla and promised for the next regular release of the browser, which started July 17.

"Enabling HTTPS for these searches shields our users from network infrastructure that may be gathering data about the users or modifying/censoring their search results," according to a Mozilla blog post about the new security feature.

€œAdditionally, using HTTPS helps providers like Google remove information from the referrer string,€ according to the same blog post. €œWhile Google users may expect Google to know what they are searching for, Firefox users may not be aware these search terms are often transmitted to sites they visit when they click on items in the search results. Enabling HTTPS search helps sites like Google strip this information from the HTTP referrer string, putting the user better in control of when and to whom their interests are shared."

Other new features in the Version 14 release include full screen support for Apple€™s Mac OS X Lion, the ability for plug-ins to only load when they are activated by a click and the ability of the location bar, also called the "Awesome Bar," to automatically complete URLs as they are typed in, according to the browser's latest release notes. More than a dozen known security flaws are also patched in the updated release.

And while Version 14 just officially arrived, the next Version 15 of Firefox continues to move along in its development cycle.

Earlier in July, Mozilla released the pre-beta version of the next version, Firefox 15, to its Aurora development channel where developers are continuing to make additional improvements and feature upgrades. A key change in the upcoming Firefox 15 is that it will include a debugger that developers can use to find issues with their JavaScript code. The debugger is available through the Web Developer menu.

Other new features in Firefox 15 include a new Responsive Design View that makes it easy to resize just the page the developer is viewing. Developers will be able to see their designs on-screen without having to view them on an actual phone, while also avoiding the need to shrink the browser€™s tools, toolbars and other tabs.

The Firefox Aurora channel is where users and developers can go to preview features of what is in store for upcoming versions of the Firefox browser. Users and developers can share their experiences with the pre-beta software and help shape the final product. Mozilla releases new versions every six weeks.