Mozilla, the developers behind one of the world’s most popular internet browsers, has released a new version of Firefox. Firefox 16 for Windows, Mac and Linux packs initial web app support, a new developer toolbar, support for more HTML5 code, and accessibility improvements for Mac. You can download the latest version here.
Firefox 16’s initial support for web apps indicates that Mozilla is gearing up for the release of its Marketplace, which could take place in Q4 of 2012. Users will be able to run web-based applications on any of their devices as web apps are self-contained, don’t always require the chrome of a browser window (the borders of a Web browser window, which include the window frames, menus, toolbars and scroll bars), and can be built to be run offline.
Developer toolbar, more HTML5, web app support included in latest update
More importantly, the release notes for Firefox 16 state that HTML5 code such as CSS3 Transitions, animations, transforms and gradients are now unprefixed. This means that Mozilla considers them to be stable enough to run in Firefox without causing major issues. Stable features include CSS3 Animations, Transitions, Transforms, Image Values, IndexedDB and Values and Units. Firefox also unprefixes Battery API and Vibration API, two Web APIs that Mozilla helped create.
The new developer toolbar has buttons for quick access to tools, an error count for the web console and a new command line that lets you control the tools with your keyboard. According to the Mozilla blog, the toolbar is “intuitive” and completes commands and parameters for you.
The Mac version of Firefox 16 has preliminary VoiceOver support turned on by default. This is an accessibility feature built into Apple’s OSX that helps users with disabilities easily control the computer. Mozilla has mentioned the support for this is ‘preliminary’ and this indicates that VoiceOver shouldn't be expected to work perfectly with Firefox 16.
The Firefox browser for Android has also been updated and the new version brings a new feature to simplify reading on websites and blogs - Reader Mode. The new mode makes it easier for you to view, read and share articles and stories from your mobile phone or tablet. Tapping the “Reader” icon in the location bar on supported websites or blogs will change the layout of the page to reformat the text, increase the font size, change the size of images and remove advertisements. You can also use the "Share" menu item to send tabs to desktop/mobile devices through the 'Firefox Sync' option. Search suggestions pop up when you’re typing into the location bar, giving you quicker access to your websites. The live thumbnail images let you switch between tabs to show you updated snaps from your site.
Firefox 16 hasn’t brought about as many changes as the previous version, which fixed many memory leaks, both for the browser and its add-ons. Firefox has been receiving criticism from the time its first versions were introduced over its hoggish memory requirements. But in recent times, Mozilla has made great improvements to the browser’s memory management, which is a good thing.