All posts tagged ‘firefox’

File Under: Browsers

Mozilla Blocks Outdated Flash Plugins in Firefox

Got an outdated Flash plugin? This is what you’ll see in Firefox. Image: Mozilla.

To help protect users from outdated, compromised third-party plugins like Adobe Flash, Microsoft Silverlight and Java, Firefox will stop automatically loading third-party plugins.

The only exception is the current Adobe Flash plugin.

Provided you’ve been keeping the Flash plugin updated, you may not even notice the change. But if you’re running an older, vulnerable version, video on sites like YouTube will no longer automatically load movies. Instead you’ll soon see a gray box and notice warning you that your plugin is out of date.

Michael Coates, Mozilla’s Director of Security Assurance, cites crashes as the main motivation for the change. “Poorly designed third-party plugins are the number one cause of crashes in Firefox,” writes Coates on the Firefox blog. “By only activating plugins that the user desires to load, we’re helping eliminate pauses, crashes and other consequences of unwanted plugins.”

Third-party plugins are also a notoriously popular way to deliver viruses and other malware.

Of course the click-to-play option can’t protect you from yourself – all you need to do to make the plugin in question run is click on the grayed out box and everything will work as usual. There’s also a new plugin icon in the URL bar; click it and a menu will show you which plugins on the page are disabled. Click “activate” to enable them, though obviously it’s a better idea to update Flash to the latest version.

One of the most common uses of Flash on the web these days is to deliver video to web browsers that don’t support the popular H.264 codec. When Firefox’s native support for H.264 video and MP3 audio arrives later this year, most Firefox users will likely have considerably less need for the Flash plugin.

File Under: Browsers, HTML5, Multimedia

Mozilla Brings Native H.264 Video to Desktop Firefox [Updated]

Look Ma, H.264 video in Firefox, no Flash necessary. Image: Screenshot/Webmonkey.

The latest nightly builds of desktop Firefox now support the ubiquitous H.264 video and MP3 codecs. When the current Firefox Nightly arrives in final form later this year, Firefox users will no longer need the Flash plugin to play H.264 web video in Firefox.

Firefox for Android and Firefox OS already support H.264 and MP3, but on the desktop the new H.264 support is, thus far, only available in the Windows 7 Nightly release.

You can grab the latest version of Firefox Nightly from the Nightly downloads page. Once installed head to about:config and turn on the preference media.windows-media-foundation.enabled.

Mozilla long opposed supporting the H.264 codec because it’s patent-encumbered and requires licensing fees. For better or worse it’s also the most popular codec for HTML5 video on the web, which drove Mozilla to take the pragmatic approach and add support to Firefox. Instead of including the codec directly in Firefox, the browser will rely on OS-level tools to play H.264 video.

Eventually all platforms except Windows XP will get OS-native codec support for H.264 video. Windows XP, which lacks OS-level tools for H.264, will continue to use the Flash plugin to play H.264 movies.

Even if you’re not a Windows 7 user there are still a few new tricks in Firefox Nightly, including a revamped downloads panel that’s no longer a separate window (and which bears more than a passing resemblance to what you’ll find in Safari 6) and support for the new CSS scoped style attribute.

[Update: As BWRic points out in the comments below the new downloads window/panel design was actually a Firefox innovation that the Safari team got around to implementing first. You can check out former Firefox UX Lead Alex Limi’s original sketches of the overlay window on his blog as well as a follow up post when Safari revealed its take on the design. It’s worth noting that Limi’s sketches have a nice progress bar in the icon (which Safari adopted as well), which is missing from the current Firefox implementation.]

Firefox’s coming Safari-style downloads window. Image: Screenshot/Webmonkey.

For more on what else is coming in future versions of Firefox, check out the Mozilla blog’s Bleeding Edge and Firefox Development Highlights series.

File Under: Browsers, HTML5, Web Standards

Future Firefox to Bring PDF, WebCam Streams to the Browser

W.T. Monkey loves WebRTC. Image: Screenshot

Firefox 18 is out the door, which means Mozilla has bumped up all the pre-release channels, showcasing features coming soon to a final release near you.

If you’d like to try out a pre-release version of Firefox, head on over to Mozilla’s channel download page and grab either the Beta or Aurora releases. (The former is a bit more stable, but both are pre-release software so proceed with caution.)

The Beta channel contains Firefox 19, which is six weeks away from release and features a few modest improvements, including a baked-in PDF viewer based on PDF.js. It may not mean the end of those annoying (and untrue) buttons that say “you need Adobe Acrobat to view this file,” but at least you don’t, well, need Acrobat just to view a PDF.

The Aurora channel has been bumped up to Firefox 20, which contains a far more interesting new feature — support for capturing local camera and microphone streams with the getUserMedia API.

Here’s how Mozilla describes getUserMedia:

[getUserMedia] is a new HTML5 DOM API that allows the browser to capture local camera and/or microphone streams directly, and not through third party plugins. This means JavaScript developers can now quickly and easily write code to access the user’s camera or microphones (with the user’s permission, of course) without having to install anything because the support is already inside the browser.

There’s a demo page you can try out over on Mozilla’s GitHub page.

The getUserMedia API is just the first of several components that make up WebRTC, a set of APIs which enable real-time, interactive, peer-to-peer audio/video calls and data sharing. Two other pieces of the WebRTC puzzle — PeerConnection and DataChannels — can be found in the Firefox Nightly channel, for those who really enjoy living on the edge (you’ll still need to enable them in about:config, set the media.peerconnection.enabled option to true).

Firefox’s six week release cycle means that — barring unforeseen problems — the PDF viewer will arrive in final form sometime in early March, with the getUserMedia tools coming in mid April.

File Under: Browsers, Mobile

Mozilla Offers Sneak Peek at New Tricks in Firefox for Android

Image: Mozilla

The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas has, thus far, been short on jaw-dropping new Android hardware. But fear not, Android fans, while new devices may still be just over the horizon, Mozilla has a sneak peek at a few new tricks coming soon to Firefox for Android.

To get the new year started Mozilla has released Firefox 18 for Android, which you can grab from the Google Play Store.

This release brings search suggestion to Firefox for Android, along with new phishing and malware protection. Once you opt-in to the new search suggestions, Firefox will — much like Google’s search page — start suggesting search terms as you type, making it faster to find what you’re after.

Like its desktop cousin, Firefox for Android will also now warn you whenever you visit a site that may be used for malware or phishing to protect users from malicious websites.

While Firefox 18 is a welcome upgrade for Android users, Mozilla has much more coming soon. The company recently posted a sneak peek at what’s in store for Firefox for Android in 2013.

The highlights include support for Private Browsing mode in the Android incarnation of Firefox. Private Browsing is getting an overhaul on the desktop side as well, with Firefox 20 expected to include a way to open Private Browsing tabs right alongside your normal tabs.

Presumably the new approach to Private Browsing will also ship with Firefox for Android, rather than the current, more cumbersome way of browsing privately, which requires hiding your current windows and opening an entirely new set of private windows.

Private Browsing is often dismissed as “porn mode,” but in truth there are plenty of uses beyond simply keeping your cookies and browsing history private. Think simultaneous logins, debugging with a “clean” visit to a site and anything else that requires separate cookies or sessions.

Next up on the Firefox for Android agenda is more device and language support. Unfortunately, the Mozilla blog doesn’t say which models might be added to the list of devices Firefox for Android supports, noting only that Mozilla is “bringing support for more devices all the time.”

The third sneak peek Mozilla is offering means more customization for Firefox on mobile — themes and more start page options will be coming soon.

Naturally, these three things aren’t the only changes due for Firefox for Android in 2013, but hopefully, now that the under-the-hood migration to native Android tools is done, Mozilla can focus its attention on new features and speed improvements.

File Under: Browsers

Mozilla Delivers Faster, Sharper Firefox 18

Mozilla has released Firefox 18, which gives the company’s flagship desktop browser a new, faster JavaScript engine, support for Retina screen Macs and preliminary support for WebRTC.

Existing users will be automatically updated. If you’ve opted out of auto-update or just want to try out the latest version of Firefox, head on over to the Mozilla downloads page.

This release is largely focused on speeding up Firefox and marks the public debut of a new faster JavaScript JIT compiler dubbed “IonMonkey.” IonMonkey replaces the older TraceMonkey and joins JagerMonkey as one of the two JIT compilers that make up Firefox’s SpiderMonkey JavaScript engine.

Too many monkeys? Here’s the bottom line: Firefox 18 has a faster JIT compiler, which means JavaScript-heavy web apps, games and pages like Gmail should be faster. If you’d like more of the gory details on Firefox’s various JavaScript monkeys, see our review of the beta channel release.

Web developers get a few new features to test in this release, including support for more of WebRTC and the latest CSS 3 Flexible Box Model syntax. The latter is still disabled by default. To enable it open up about:config and search for “flexbox.”

Another welcome, but disabled-by-default feature is a setting to stop insecure content from loading on secure websites. Turning it on may break a lot of sites (mixing HTTP and HTTPS content on the same page is, sadly, quite common), but it will make your browsing more secure. Head to about:config and search for “mixed,” which will bring up the relevant options.

For more details on everything that’s new in Firefox 18 — including a new HTML scaling algorithm that promises to make images sharper — be sure to read through Mozilla’s release notes.