Mozilla Patches 32 Security Flaws, Boosts Firefox 58 Performance

Today’s topics include a Firefox 58 update to fix 32 security flaws and to accelerate performance; Acer’s introduction of new Chromebook models for business and classrooms; new features for Microsoft OneNote and Teams for education; and Google starts selling audiobooks on the Play Store. 

Mozilla released its first 2018 web browser update on Jan. 23 with the debut of Firefox 58, which includes features designed to accelerate performance as well as patches for 32 security vulnerabilities. 

Firefox 58 is the second major release in the Quantum series, which focuses on improving performance featuring Off-Main-Thread-Painting. According to Mozilla, OMTP improves the graphics frame rate for Firefox by as much as 30 percent. 

Mozilla is also using Firefox 58 to remind users about the Tracking Protection feature, introduced in Firefox 57, that blocks tracking, including cookies and unwanted advertisements. 

The feature is opt-in only, and to date few users have chosen to accept it. Of the 32 new security vulnerabilities that Mozilla patched three of them are rated as critical. Among these is a pair of memory safety issues and a moderate impact bug involving background network requests. 

At the Bett 2018 education technology show in London on Jan. 23, Acer introduced the Chromebook 11 C732 laptop, Chromebox CXI3 desktop, and a new Chromebook Spin 11 hybrid model. 

These will support Google Play and other Google services, and are designed for business and classrooms. The Chromebook 11 C732 will start at $299.99 for touch models and $279.99 for non-touch models when it goes on sale in March in the U.S. 

It also includes an HD webcam and an estimated 12 hour battery life. The Chromebook Spin 11 laptop includes a 360-degree rear hinge that allows it to be positioned as a laptop, in tent mode or as a tablet. Prices will start at $349 in the U.S. in April. 

Finally, the Chromebox CXI3 desktop can be configured with various Intel processors up to 8th generation Intel Core models, but Acer hasn’t yet announced pricing and availability. 

During the Bett education conference, Microsoft showcased applications intended to help teachers and students maximize the learning experience each school day. 

A handful of new features in OneNote will help teachers better manage their classrooms. Starting in preview in February, teachers who use OneNote Class Notebooks will be able to lock pages, setting them to a read-only mode after they have given their students feedback. 

A new integration with Desmos, a provider of graphing calculator and learning applications, now allows STEM teachers to add interactive calculators to OneNote. Teams will soon be integrated with PowerPoint and Stream, Microsoft's enterprise video hosting and streaming service, to allow users to create and publish multimedia learning experiences. 

Google on Jan 23 launched of Audiobooks on Google Play, allowing users in 45 countries to buy audiobooks in nine languages from their Play mobile app store. 

Google's Audiobooks are available for Android and iOS-based smartphones and tablet as well as for use via Web browsers. Unlike Amazon's Audible, Google doesn’t require a membership or commitment to buy multiple audiobooks. 

As with other Google Play purchases, users can share audiobooks with up to 5 family members for no additional fee via the Family Library feature in Play. Users of Android devices and Android powered speakers such as Google Home can access their audiobooks via Google Assistant, the company's digital assistant technology. 

As with Amazon Audible, users who purchase an audiobook will be able to listen to it on multiple supported devices without having to cue it up for each device.