Mozilla’s Firefox 4 browser is only a few weeks old, but we’re already beginning to catch wind of what the company’s planning for its next release. Firefox 5 will sport integrated social sharing, taskbar web apps, identity management, and a slew of features already found in Google’s Chrome browser, according to Mozilla’s Firefox User Experience priorities page.
That we’re beginning to hear about the next major version of Firefox so soon is a good sign that Mozilla is working to speed up its development time. Firefox 3 was released in June 2008, and in the time between that release and Firefox 4 a few weeks ago, Google came out of nowhere to steal away many of Mozilla’s tech-savvy users with the launch of the Google Chrome browser.
Conceivably Tech, which first reported the news, is also hearing that Mozilla is planning for around three major browser releases every year. Mozilla has also listed faster releases as one of the priorities for this year on its Firefox Roadmap, and the company has previously discussed moving to a 16-week release cycle for major releases. Previously, the company struggled to get a single major browser release annually.
None of the Firefox 5 features name so far sounds revolutionary, but it’s good to see Mozilla innovating. The version 5 browser will let you share any web page directly from the location bar, so you won’t have to hunt for Twitter buttons or extensions to share a site with friends. There will also be an integrated identity manager to keep you signed into websites and allow you to login to websites with multiple accounts.
Firefox 5 will also allow web apps to take advantage of its task bar. For example, Facebook will be able to implement a drop down menu with links to your news feed, messages, events and friends right next to the Firefox menu in the task bar.
Other Firefox 5 features aren’t too different from what Chrome already offers: Mozilla plans to implement in-browser previews of PDFs (and potentially other file formats like MP3 in the future), a dedicated new tab page, and the ability to select and move multiple tabs at once (a feature that is in test builds of Chrome at the moment).
Given Mozilla’s new 16 week cycle, the company could release Firefox 5 as soon as late June. More realistically, the June release may end up being a major revamp of Firefox 4 (perhaps a Firefox 4.5 release), while Firefox 5 proper won’t land until the end of the year.