Mozilla reboots with Firefox 57

Further Innovations

Activity Stream introduces an innovation that users only could access previously through the experimental Test Pilot [7]. In early 2017, Mozilla acquired Read It Later, the developers of Pocket. Pocket is now integrated deeper into Firefox via Activity Stream. If you open a new tab, you will see both searches and frequently visited websites, as well as recommended reading selected by Pocket (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Via Activity Stream, Firefox now integrates Pocket reading suggestions into the new tab page.

In a new tab with the Firefox logo, the browser offers a tour that introduces the interface's most important new features (Figure 3). Also included is a new Library menu to the right of the address bar in the form of a book stack icon. The menu combines bookmarks, history, synchronized tabs, downloads, and the Screenshots tool (Figure 4).

Figure 3: With a tour, Mozilla introduces Firefox Quantum's new features.
Figure 4: The Library menu combines frequently used functions such as history, downloads, and bookmarks.

An available feature in Chrome and other browsers for a long time, Mozilla now merges the address and search fields in FF57. The main menu is now easier to navigate, with small icons in a space-saving list (Figure 5).

Figure 5: The main menu is easier to navigate: Instead of large icons, there are now small icons and text.

Useful Improvements

In addition to the further improved and more prominently placed Screenshots tool (Figure 6), which you can now access via the three dots in the right of the address field, Firefox Quantum offers two more useful functions. The first is the Send Tabs feature, which lets you to send open tabs to other devices. In the context menu of a tab, the new Send Tab to Device menu item supports cross-platform opening of tabs (Figure 7). In the Android version, the new feature is found in the menu below the Share icon and then at the top of the other options.

Figure 6: Firefox 57 makes it possible to grab screenshots directly in the browser, including saving them to the cloud. However, Opera is already far ahead of the game here.
Figure 7: A new feature lets you send tabs to other devices linked to your Firefox account.

FF57 also has a function for automatically filling out address forms. The current version will only work in the USA, but the address feature will gradually roll out in other countries.

At the last minute, the Firefox developers also released a tracking protection feature that was originally intended for Firefox 58. You can choose whether the protection should only apply to private windows or to all windows. You can also choose between two tracking lists. However, keep in mind that strict tracking protections can sometimes impair the presentation of websites.

Summary and Outlook

The experts differ on whether Mozilla will be able to stop the downward trend in marketshare. Mozilla's former technical director, Andreas Gal, who left the company two years ago, sees Firefox as doomed [8]. He also predicts a browser death race that only Chrome and Safari can survive. However, Gal and other critics forget that the Mozilla Foundation does not need to make a profit. Mozilla's head of marketing, Jascha Kaykas-Wolff, says that Firefox must be more than just a niche product, but not necessarily as widespread as Google, Facebook, or Amazon. Mozilla is primarily concerned with preserving Internet freedom and driving innovation, not maximizing downloads.

Mozilla has done much for the open Internet and is already planning for interactions with the network of networks in the future. Ongoing developments address artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, and the open source Common Voice [9] project, which aims to improve speech recognition. A voice interface would completely change the browser of the future.

Buy this article as PDF

Express-Checkout as PDF
Price $2.95
(incl. VAT)

Buy Linux Magazine

SINGLE ISSUES
 
SUBSCRIPTIONS
 
TABLET & SMARTPHONE APPS
Get it on Google Play

US / Canada

Get it on Google Play

UK / Australia

Related content

comments powered by Disqus

Direct Download

Read full article as PDF:

Price $2.95

News