Saturday, January 19, 2013

Firefox 18 Review

Mozilla released Firefox 18, its latest Rapid Release internet browser version on January 8, 2013.

I’ve been using Firefox web browser for several years now and it’s been my favourite browser, but since I’ve been tried Google Chrome, I’ve definitely found a great alternative. In fact, Google Chrome which was behind Internet Explorer and Firefox, in terms of global usage, has now caught on with Internet Explorer and left Firefox behind.

With the new Rapid Releases being implemented approximately every 6 weeks, Firefox has been making improvements to their internet browser, but still lag behind. Let’s review some of the improvements implemented in Firefox in the last few Rapid Release versions starting with Firefox 18:

First off, there were over 2,900 bug fixes implemented in Firefox 18 including some security fixes. One of the major improvements in Firefox 18 was the faster performance in JavaScript via the new IonMonkey JavaScript engine. For Mac users, Firefox provides full support for OS X 10.7 (and up) high-resolution retina displays. Web Developers will see improvements in terms of support for new DOM property window.devicePixelRatio; improvement in startup time through smart handling of signed extension certificates; and support for W3C touch events implemented, taking the place of MozTouch events. As per the Peacekeeper browser benchmark test results, Firefox performed better than previous Firefox browser versions. However, Google Chrome continues to outperform Firefox, as you can see from the browser benchmark results below:


In Firefox 17, there were over 2,300 bug fixes implemented, though there were no noticeable new features implemented. Firefox 17 upgrade included Social API support which helps integrate social media sites in your browsing experience as well as support for Facebook Messenger in the Firefox sidebar. Another enhancement included were larger icons in the Firefox Awesome Bar which makes it easier to navigate through. The Peacekeeper browser benchmark test results showed no improvement over the previous version Firefox 16. As usual, Google Chrome outperformed Firefox as you can see from the results below:


In Firefox 16, there were over 1,900 bug fixes implemented including a couple of critical security fixes. Firefox 16 included Web Apps support for Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems, and improvement in JavaScript responsiveness. Web Developers were treated to a new Developer Toolbar which includes buttons providing quick access to tools, error count for the Web Console, and a new command line for quick keyboard access. When I ran the Peacekeeper browser benchmark test, the results showed a slight drop in overall performance and Google Chrome continued to outperform:


Other significant improvements made in Firefox, in previous updates, were: optimization of memory usage for add-ons; silent background updates, which is similar to Google Chrome, if you have your browser set for automatic updates; new Pointer Lock API which helps better control the mouse; full screen support for Mac OS X Lion to enhance browsing experience; and new API which stops the screen from sleeping. Overall, Firefox still remains my browser of choice, though Google Chrome is soon becoming one of my favourites. For more detailed information on Firefox Rapid Release updates, visit Firefox Reviews.