Mozilla touts over 1,000 improvements in the new browser, but it’s certainly nowhere near as big a leap as Firefox 4 was over its predecessor. Firefox 5 features improved HTML5, sync and developer support, as well as new Do Not Track privacy features in its Android version. Mozilla boasts that it’s the first browser to offer cross-platform privacy features. The desktop versions of the browser also support CSS Animations, which will let developers create more interactive sites.
In another era, Mozilla would have likely labeled this release as a point version of Firefox 4 (i.e., Firefox 4.5). But with Google Chrome steaming through browser versions without looking back (it’s up to version 13 in beta testing now), and Microsoft already up to Internet Explorer 9, Mozilla likely felt the need to keep up the pace. As a point of comparison, Firefox 4 came a full two years after the release of Firefox 3.
While this particular Firefox release isn’t very exciting, it’s still good to see Mozilla stepping up its development cycle. I’ve only used Firefox 5 briefly, but it does feel slightly faster than its predecessor. I’m just hoping Mozilla finds more to add with future Firefox releases, because it still needs to find some way to tempt back all of the users who left Firefox for Chrome.