Mozilla today updated Firefox 38 to version 38.0.5. A small bump like this usually indicates just a few changes here and there, but this time is different: A new Firefox Hello tab sharing feature and Pocket integration have been added.
Mozilla doesn’t break out the exact numbers for Firefox, though the company does say “half a billion people around the world” use the browser. In other words, it’s a major platform that Web developers target — even in a world increasingly dominated by mobile apps.
The company first previewed both these features last month in the Firefox beta channel for Windows, Mac, and Linux. If you’re wondering, yes, this update is mainly aimed at the desktop.
Firefox for desktop users can now share the active tab or window in a Hello conversation, as well as save the current page in Pocket. Both features leverage Firefox Accounts, an account system that provides access to Mozilla services (and now, apparently, third-party services too).
Firefox Hello is a web real-time communication (WebRTC) calling feature powered by Spanish carrier Telefonica. Pocket meanwhile is a service for managing a reading list of online articles (it allows you to save stories, videos, and websites to check out later).
While Pocket is already offered as a Firefox add-on, including it directly in Firefox means the browser’s users can save all the pages they want to read or watch later without signing up separately for the service. Pocket is available in Firefox Accounts in U.S. English, German, Japanese, Russian, and Spanish.
Mozilla says it will work with the company to keep adding features and support for more languages. While some will welcome this addition, many hardcore Firefox users will question it as adding bloat to the browser. Firefox previously offered a Reading List feature, but it was scrapped in favor of Pocket.
Again, Firefox 38.0.5 isn’t a major release. The full changelog is quite short:
- New: Keep track of articles and videos with Pocket.
- New: Clean formatting for articles and blog posts with Reader View.
- New: Share the active tab or window in a Hello conversation.
- Fixed: A race condition that would cause Firefox to stop painting when switching tabs (bug 1067470).
- Fixed: Fixed graphics performance when using the built-in VGA driver on Windows 7 (bug 1165732).
Also worth noting is the new Reader View, which like its counterparts in competing browsers is supposed to give you a distraction-free mode for reading webpages. It does this by only showing an article’s text, and hiding all the other extras on the site.
Mozilla today also released Firefox Developer Edition 40 with new performance tools. Firefox Developer Edition, which sits between the Nightly and Beta channels, is “the first browser created specifically for developers,” according to Mozilla.
The new performance tools are supposed to make it easier to build fast, interactive websites and web apps. Full details for developers are available here.
Despite this atypical update, Mozilla is on track with its six-week release schedule. We thus still expect Firefox 39 to arrive by the end of June.
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