Firefox 55 Browser Gains Screenshot Utility, WebVR, and New Performance Features

Mozilla released Firefox 55 for macOS on Wednesday, touting new performance settings, faster speeds, several new features including a screenshot utility, and the addition of WebVR support.

Firefox 55’s major front end feature is Firefox Screenshots, accessed via a new screenshots icon on the toolbar. The feature allows users to capture a region of a web page by clicking and dragging a selection manually, or allowing Screenshots to capture one for them simply by hovering over the page element.

It’s also possible to capture a full page view without scrolling, and selections can be saved to an online Screenshots library, shared, and downloaded. Mozilla says Firefox Screenshots will be a gradual rollout so not everyone will see it immediately.

Meanwhile, WebVR is the big platform feature shipping in Firefox 55 that allows users with an HTC Vive or Oculus Rift to experience VR content on the web. Although the feature is currently only available to Windows users, there’s good reason to believe that macOS support is on Mozilla’s roadmap, given that Apple developers have recently joined the WebVR open community initiative.

In addition to the above, Firefox 55 promises users a dramatic performance improvement in session restores with large numbers of tabs, an option to fine-tune browser performance with e10s multi-settings, a new click-to-activate Flash Player, search suggestions in the Awesomebar enabled by default, and a modernized update system.

Firefox 55 is a free download for macOS and can be directly from the Mozilla website.

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Firefox 8.0 for iOS Brings New Tab Experience, Night Mode, and QR Code Reader

Mozilla has released Firefox 8.0 for iOS with several notable new features including a Night Mode, a built-in QR code reader, and a redesigned tab experience.

Changes to the web browser’s tabs mean users now see recently visited sites whenever they open up a new one, combined with highlights from previous web visits. Mozilla says this change in particular will be rolled out to users gradually over the next few weeks.



As for the new Night Mode, this refers to a web page brightness dimming feature for easier reading in dark environments, rather than a darkened interface as such.

Version 8.0 of the browser also introduces Feature Recommendations, which are basically hints and time-saving tips to help users improve their Firefox experience. In addition, it’s also now possible to send a web page or tab to another Firefox-synced device, across both desktop and mobile devices.

Other smaller tweaks to the app include yMail as one of the supported email clients, the password manager now has improved login page detection, and when users copy a link Firefox will now prompt them to open it, rather than having to paste it in manually.

Firefox 8.0 web browser is a free download for iPhone and iPad available on the App Store. [Direct Link]

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Firefox 54 Promises Faster Browsing on Macs With Limited RAM

Mozilla yesterday announced the release of Firefox 54 web browser with new multi-process architecture that promises to make browsing with multiple tabs open faster and more stable, especially on computers with 8GB of memory or less.

With the latest release, Firefox uses up to four processes to run web page content across all open tabs. This means that a heavy, complex web page in one tab has a much lower impact on the responsiveness and speed of other tabs, according to Mozilla:

The old Firefox used a single process to run all the tabs in a browser. Modern browsers split the load into several independent processes. We named our project to split Firefox into multiple processes ‘Electrolysis’ (or E10s) after the chemical process that divides water into its core elements. E10s is the largest change to Firefox code in our history. Besides running faster and crashing less, E10S makes websites feel more smooth. Even busy pages, like Facebook newsfeeds, spool out smoothly and cleanly.



In Mozilla’s own tests comparing memory usage for various browsers, it claimed that Firefox used significantly less RAM in macOS than both Safari and Chrome. The group has published an article on Medium explaining how the new E10s architecture works.

In one section titled “Why Chrome gets too hot when Firefox does not”, Mozilla writes that Chrome’s method of creating separate processes for each open tab can end up with each one consuming hundreds of megabytes of RAM, whereas Firefox reuses processes and content engines to limit memory usage.

By default, Firefox now creates up to 4 separate processes for web page content. So, your first 4 tabs each use those 4 processes, and additional tabs run using threads within those processes. Multiple tabs within a process share the browser engine that already exists in memory, instead of each creating their own.

Mozilla claims that Firefox’s considerate memory usage means users with 8GB of memory or less can browse the web without the browser hogging resources, allowing them to do other things on their computer. Meanwhile, users with more than 8GB of RAM can bump up the number of content processes that Firefox uses to make it even faster.

To change the number of content processes Firefox uses, enter about:config in your address bar, and adjust the number for the dom.ipc.processCount setting (we’ll be exposing a visible preference for this in an upcoming release).

Users can test out the claims by downloading Firefox 54 for free from the Mozilla website.

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