Mozilla today launched Firefox 75 for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Firefox 75 includes a revamped address bar with significant search improvements, a few performance tweaks, and a handful of developer features. You can download Firefox 75 for desktop now from Firefox.com, and all existing users should be able to upgrade to it automatically. According to Mozilla, Firefox has about 250 million active users, making it a major platform for web developers to consider.
When the coronavirus crisis took hold, millions found themselves spending more time in their browsers as they learn and work from home. But the crisis is also impacting software developers. Google was forced to pause its Chrome releases, which typically arrive every six weeks. Ultimately, Chrome 81 was delayed, Chrome 82 is being skipped altogether, and Chrome 83 has been moved up a few weeks. Microsoft has followed suit with Edge’s release schedule, consistent with Google’s open source Chromium project, which both Chrome and Edge are based on. Mozilla wants to make clear it is not in the same boat. The company took an indirect jab at Google and Microsoft today, saying: “We’ve built empathy into our systems for handling difficult or unexpected circumstances. These strengths are what allow us to continue to make progress where some of our competitors have had to slow down or stop work.”
In fact, Mozilla this year sped up Firefox releases to a four-week cadence (previously they arrived every six to eight weeks). Despite the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mozilla today confirmed the team “can maintain our 2020 Firefox release schedule as we navigate this global crisis together.” Many of the Firefox staff and contributors already work remotely, test on remote hardware, and collaborate across timezones. That said, the company is monitoring internal and external feedback and remains “open to making future adjustments.” And while the schedule remains unchanged, the roadmap is shifting. Mozilla says it will avoid shipping changes that might negatively impact the user experience on, or possibly break, government and health services websites. The company has also specifically prioritized fixing video conferencing issues.
Revamped address bar with faster search
The biggest change in Firefox 75 is the improved address bar that adjusts based on your screen size. There’s a refreshed look and feel with an enlarged bar, a single view with a larger font, shorter URLs, and a shortcut to the most popular sites to search.
Speaking of search, the address bar is smarter at helping you narrow down your results, displaying additional popular keywords to help you find what you’re looking for.
Your top sites (read: most visited) are now available via a single click in the address bar. If you already have a site open in another tab but can’t find it, Firefox will highlight a text shortcut next to it. This also works for any page you search for and may not realize you’ve already opened.
Windows, Mac, and Linux
There are a few other additions in this release. Here’s the full Firefox 75 for desktop changelog:
- With today’s release, a number of improvements will help you search smarter, faster. Type less and find more with Firefox’s revamped address bar: clean search experience that’s optimized for smaller laptop screens, top sites now appear when you select the address, improved readability of search suggestions with a focus on new search terms, and suggestions include solutions to common Firefox issues. On Linux, the behavior when clicking on the Address Bar and the Search Bar now matches other desktop platforms: A single click selects all without primary selection, a double click selects a word, and a triple click selects all with primary selection.
- Firefox will locally cache all trusted Web PKI Certificate Authority certificates known to Mozilla. This will improve HTTPS compatibility with misconfigured web servers and improve security.
- Firefox is now available in Flatpak, an easier way to install and use Firefox on Linux.
- Direct Composition is being integrated for our users on Windows to help improve performance and enable our ongoing work to ship WebRender on Win10 laptops with Intel graphics cards.
- Experimental support for using client certificates from the OS certificate store can be enabled on macOS by setting the preference security.osclientcerts.autoload to true.
- Enterprise policies may be used to exclude domains from being resolved via TRR (Trusted Recursive Resolver) using DNS over HTTPS.
- Save bandwidth and reduce browser memory by using the loading attribute on the img element. The default “eager” value loads images immediately, and the “lazy” value delays loading until the image is within range of the viewport.
- Instant evaluation for Console expressions lets developers identify and fix errors more rapidly than before. As long as expressions typed into the Web Console are side-effect free, their results will be previewed while you type.
- Various security fixes.
Mozilla once again did not release an Android version of Firefox. The Android team is still working on Firefox Preview, a new version of Firefox for Android powered by GeckoView. Mozilla plans to launch the new Firefox for Android in the first half of 2020.
Mozilla releases new Firefox versions every four weeks. Firefox 76 is currently slated for May.