File Under: Browsers

Next Firefox 4 Beta Arrives, Now With Multi-touch

Mozilla has released the latest beta version of its Firefox 4 browser. You can grab Firefox 4 beta 3 for all major operating systems and over 30 languages from Mozilla’s beta download site.

The big addition to this beta is support for touch events inside the browser on Windows 7 machines. Windows 7 ships with built-in support for multi-touch actions on touchscreen tablets, desktops and laptops, and now Firefox is able to access that magic and let you interact with websites by touching them. The result is stuff like this:

Also new to this release is an enhancement to the JavaScript capabilities within Firefox. If you’ve been keeping up with all the latest JavaScript and HTML5 web app demos we’ve been showing you over the last few months, you’ve probably noticed that animations with many moving parts tend to be much smoother and faster in Chrome and Safari. This new version of Firefox gives scripted animation performance a significant boost, so the speed difference is less noticeable.

These new features join the enhancements already introduced in previous pre-release versions of Firefox 4, like the new tabs-on-top interface and the addition of App Tabs.

The tabs-on-top setting can be toggled in the browser's View menu.

The move to tabs-on-top is a growing trend among browser vendors. Chrome and Opera do it, and Safari has flirted with the look. While some within the Firefox user community fear Mozilla is making the switch just to chase the latest design fad, the change is less about a trend and more about the evolution of the web as a platform — these UI tweaks turn the tab bar into something much closer to a dock or a task bar.

Keep in mind, Firefox 4 is still a pre-release browser, and it may not be entirely stable. But it should be stable enough for daily use, and it will give you a heads up on all the new goodies on the way when Firefox 4 is officially released this October or November.

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