File Under: Browsers

Aurora Preview Brings Faster ‘SPDY’ Protocol to Firefox

Mozilla recently pushed Firefox 11 out the door and onto the web, which means the Beta and Aurora channels for Firefox early adopters have also been updated.

If you’d like to try either early release, head over to the Beta download page or the Aurora download page, depending on how far out on the bleeding edge of Firefox development you want to go.

Firefox 12, currently in the beta channel, brings a handful of improvements, including some refinements for Firefox’s new built-in developer tools. The beta currently offers updated versions of the new Page Inspector, the Web Console panel and the JavaScript Scratchpad.

Much of what’s exciting about the Firefox roadmap is to be found in the Aurora channel, currently showcasing Firefox 13. Here you’ll find support for the new SPDY protocol — a faster alternative to HTTP — enabled by default. SPDY, which began life at Google, is in the early stages of the standardization process, but when it finally arrives it should make many webpages load twice as fast as they do now over HTTP. Currently not many websites are serving pages over SPDY, though Twitter recently started doing so where possible. On the browser side, Google Chrome already offers SPDY support, as does Firefox 11, though until Firefox 13 hits prime time, SPDY support is disabled by default.

Firefox 13 will see some significant changes for Firefox on Android, with support for multitouch events and a new screen orientation API.

The biggest news in Firefox 13 for developers is that Mozilla is changing the User Agent string to report the type of device — “Mobile” or “Tablet.” That means if you’re relying on a device detection script (and this is a reminder of why you probably shouldn’t be) it’s time to update your device list.

Firefox 13 will also drop the prefix from a couple of CSS elements, namely border-radius and box-shadow. Hopefully you’ve been following best practices and including the non-prefixed CSS rule along with your prefixed versions, otherwise Firefox 13 will stop rendering your rounded corners and drop shadows.

For more info on everything that’s coming in Firefox 13, read through the list of improvements over on the Mozilla Hacks Blog.