Firefox has been one browser that has improved a lot over time, and while Internet Explorer continues to receive the negative feedback from users across the globe, Mozilla’s offering has actually grown into a worthy contender against almost any internet browser, most notably Google Chrome. Mozilla’s focus towards bringing the best of the best to its users continues, and with the release of Firefox 20, they’ve brought some much needed (and appreciated) enhancements to their already popular browser. The new Firefox 20 has not only been released for desktop systems – including Windows, OS X and Linux – but also for Android, albeit with a slightly different change log. Let’s take a look at what’s new and improved just past the fold.
In a nutshell, the enhancements circle around private browsing sessions on a per-window basis (something that Chrome has had for a while now), a much neater and functional download manager, and isolated handling of plugins, so that the faulty ones can be shut down without actually needing to crash the whole browser. On the Android side, you get per-tab private browsing, H.264/AAC/MP3 hardware decoder support for Gingerbread and Honeycomb, as well as customization possibilities for the Top Sites thumbnails
The complete change log for Desktop version of Firefox 20 goes thus:
- FIXED: Security fixes can be found here.
- NEW: Per-window Private Browsing. Learn more.
- NEW: New download experience. Learn more.
- NEW: Ability to close hanging plugins, without the browser hanging.
- CHANGED: Continued performance improvements around common browser tasks (page loads, downloads, shutdown, etc.).
- DEVELOPER: Continued implementation of draft ECMAScript 6 –clear() and Math.imul.
- HTML5: getUserMedia implemented for web access to the user’s camera and microphone (with user permission).
- HTML5: <canvas> now supports blend modes.
- HTML5: Various <audio> and <video> improvements.
- FIXED: Details button on Crash Reporter
- FIXED: Unity plugin doesn’t display in HiDPI mode
The new Download Manager is something of a particular interest, since the previous offering by Firefox was pretty much a joke, to say the least. First, the download manager seems to adapt certain elements from iTunes 11, following an approach similar to iTunes’ downward arrow to take a quick glance at currently ongoing downloads. An in-progress download changes the arrow to a progress bar, indicating the time remaining above the bar as well.
The actual download manager has been improved to give a very detailed overview of what you’ve downloaded and when, along side the capability to sort your items, quickly open the downloaded files’ location in Explorer, remove an entry from the list etc., using the new Library panel. The same panel also bundles History, Bookmarks and Tags.
Naturally, there are quite a few backend improvements as well, and while I haven’t tested Firefox 20 under heavy tab-load (the way I treat Chrome), the browser does seem even faster than before.
Firefox 20 for Windows, Linux and OS X can be obtained at the official Mozilla Firefox website at firefox.com, or through the update release channel if you already have the browser installed. Android version is available through the Google Play Store.