Firefox for Android Beta Makes it Even Easier to Customize Your Web Experience

kshaw

Firefox for Android Beta introduces a powerful set of customization features for users and APIs for developers. These new features are unique to Firefox for Android Beta and offer users more personalization options and even greater control over their Web experience.

More Customization Options

Users can customize their home screen pages to see the Web content they want from a variety of websites, feeds and services. Just some of the websites, feeds and services that Mozilla has been experimenting with include Instagram, Pocket, Vimeo and Wikipedia. Users can now experience these in Firefox for Android Beta.

Instagram Home Screen

Instagram home screen page in Firefox for Android Beta

Users can pick and choose which home screen page appears as the default, re-order pages, hide unwanted pages or hide all pages for a completely clean new tab experience.

Users can now install new home screen pages for testing the same way all add-ons are installed from the settings menu under tools/add-ons. The pages can also be installed from the home screen panels collection on the Mozilla add-ons website.

A New Class of Add-Ons

This new set of APIs transforms and extends the potential of home screen pages, giving add-on developers the tools they need to build a whole new class of add-ons into the Firefox for Android Beta user experience. Add-on developers can use these APIs to create their own home screen pages, giving them a dedicated space where they can entice users to interact with their add-ons.

Easily Switch Between Languages

We added a feature to Firefox for Android Beta that enables users to easily switch between languages without restarting the browser. The feature allows us to offer 54 language options in Firefox for Android Beta, which a user can switch between regardless of the locales supported by their Android device. We created this feature in direct response to user demand, working alongside our passionate community of volunteer localization contributors to deliver it.

Help us test this new home screen experience and our new language switching feature from today. Please remember to share your feedback and file any bugs as we continue to improve performance and features for our users.

More information:

Help Test Powerful Cross-Platform Developer Tools in Firefox Beta

Mozilla

Firefox Beta for Windows, Mac, Linux and Android introduces some powerful new features and tools to help developers create and build Web content, apps and add-ons more easily than before. Please help us test these tools and provide any feedback you have.

Here’s a look at what’s new for developers:

Mobile Apps

  • Firefox Hub APIs: Firefox Beta includes support for Firefox Hub APIs allowing add-on developers to add their own content to the Firefox for Android homepage (where users find bookmarks, top sites etc.), providing them with a large area to entice users to interact with their add-on. For more details about building add-ons with these APIs, check out the documentation on MDN and see this collection of experimental add-ons as examples.
  • APK Factory Performance and Stability Improvements: We have been working on providing more performance improvements to this “native experience” for Web apps on Firefox for Android. Using APK Factory, Firefox OS app developers can now target millions of Firefox for Android users without changing a line of their apps code. By giving Web apps native updates, native installation and native app management, developers can now provide a more familiar way for users to manage their Web apps. The APK Factory also ensures Web apps use a modern up-to-date runtime, so there is no performance degradation or compatibility issues. Find out more here

Web Design Perks

  • Eyedropper: New to the color picker in the Inspector is an Eyedropper tool that grabs the color from any pixel on the page, making it easier to copy colors or manipulate them based on their color value.

    To enable a convenient toolbar icon, go to the settings panel and check ‘Available Toolbox Buttons > Grab a color from the page’. You can also trigger the eyedropper from the Web Developer menu.

  • Editable Box Model:
    Keeping with the design theme, the Inspector now also allows you to directly edit dimensions in the Box Model panel.

    Need to add or take away some padding or margin on the fly? Just double-click any of the margin, border, or padding values to change its value for the currently selected element. You can enter any valid CSS value and use the Up/Down keys to increment or decrement the value by 1. Alt-Up increments by 0.1 and Shift-Up increments by 10.

  • Code Editor improvements: Style Editor and Scratchpad gain powerful new features available as part of the upgrade to the Codemirror 4 editor, including Sublime Text key-bindings, Rectangle selection, Undo selection and Multiple selection.

Workflow Improvements

Web developers tend to use the console and network monitor heavily as they debug, and we have been listening to feedback on how to improve the console experience with some nice improvements in Firefox Beta:

  • Console stack traces: console.error, console.exception, and console.assert logs in the console now include the full stack from where the call was made.
  • Copy as cURL: replay any network request in the Network Monitor from the comfort of your own terminal. Right-click a request and select the copy as cURL menu item to copy a cURL command to the clipboard, including arguments for headers and data.
  • Styled console logs: on parity with other browser developer tools, you can now add style to console logging with the %c directive.

Increased Debugging Support

  • Canvas Debugger: Mozilla technologies like asm.js have greatly increased the awareness of HTML5 Games and WebGL in particular. To help developers inspect 2D and 3D graphics we have introduced a canvas debugger that allows developer to record and scroll through their code frame by frame.
  • Add-on Debugger: With the introduction of the Add-on Debugger, testing add-ons just got a lot easier. If you’re an add-on author you will want to enable the setting ‘Enable chrome and addon debugging’ under the Developer Tools’ ‘Advanced Settings’ section. Once this is enabled, any restart-less add-ons listed in the Addon Manager will gain a ‘Debug’ button, including add-ons created using the Add-on SDK. For more on how this works, we’ve created a short screencast of the Add-on Debugger in action.

More information:

Experimenting with WebRTC in Firefox Nightly

Chad Weiner

** July 25 UPDATE: Since we landed our initial WebRTC experiment in Nightly we have received lots of positive feedback. This update is to let you know that the WebRTC feature will now be available in Aurora so we can gather feedback from even more users. It’s important to note that we’re still in the testing and experimental phase and as always, we’re keen to get your feedback. We look forward to sharing more soon as the feature develops further.**

The number of different services that promise to make communication faster and simpler has exploded in recent years. As every new social messaging service comes online, we see increasing fragmentation that makes it harder to stay close to everyone you care about, everywhere around the world. Moving so frequently between walled gardens can be tiring and confusing.

So, we asked, what if Mozilla could help tear down these walls? What if the browser, with near universal adoption, could become keystone of an open, interoperable communications system.

Soon, in Firefox Nightly, you will see our first experiments in creating a WebRTC-powered communications feature that aims to connect everyone with a WebRTC-enabled browser. And that’s all you will need. No plug-ins, no downloads. If you have a browser, a camera and a mic, you’ll be able to make audio and video calls to anyone else with an enabled browser. It will eventually work across all of your devices and operating systems. And we’ll be adding lots more features in the future as we roll it out to more users. It’s going to be awesome!

From our industry-first implementation of DataChannels, to the first WebRTC call between two major browsers, we’ve been pushing WebRTC to deliver more value to users and developers and we’re continuing along this path with this experiment. But you shouldn’t expect a polished service quite yet. It’s early days and we’re just starting to test pieces of this service.

As we develop this experimental feature in Firefox, we’re proud to have a partner in TokBox who have provided invaluable help in getting this project to where it is today, and whose OpenTok video and voice platform powers the service. Their early support and contributions to WebRTC are helping this emerging standard establish a foothold and earn developer attention.

We’re excited to start testing this feature in our Nightly channel and look forward to providing frequent updates as we develop this service.

Chad Weiner
Director of Product Management, Firefox

New Tab Experiments

Johnathan Nightingale

A few months ago Darren posted about some experiments we wanted to do with the new tab page. It didn’t go over well. A lot of our community found the language hard to decipher, and worried that we were going to turn Firefox into a mess of logos sold to the highest bidder; without user control, without user benefit.

That’s not going to happen. That’s not who we are at Mozilla.

But we will experiment. In the coming weeks, we’ll be landing tests on our pre-release channels to see whether we can make things like the new tab page more useful, particularly for fresh installs of Firefox, where we don’t yet have any recommendations to make from your history. We’ll test a mix of our own sites and other useful sites on the Web. We’ll mess with the layout. These tests are purely to understand what our users find helpful and what our users ignore or disable – these tests are not about revenue and none will be collected. Sponsorship would be the next stage once we are confident that we can deliver user value.

We’ll experiment on Firefox across platforms, and we’ll talk about what we learn before anything ships to our release users. And we’ll keep listening for feedback and suggestions to make this work better for you. Because that’s who we are at Mozilla.

Johnathan Nightingale
VP Firefox

Firefox OS Update Adds New Features including Dual-SIM Support and Enhancements for Music Lovers and Gamers

Mozilla

The next update to Firefox OS is now available to Mozilla partners to implement in smartphones. The update includes several new features including Dual-SIM dual-standby (DSDS) support offering the flexibility of having two separate SIMs, additional camera features and simplified access to the music player and the ability to create unique smart collections of apps.

App developers will be pleased to see the arrival of new platform technologies such as WebGL, asm.js and WebAudio for creating immersive games with great audio effects.

Here are some more highlights from this release:

For Firefox OS users:

Dual-SIM dual-standby (DSDS) offers the flexibility of two lines with compatible phones: A highly demanded feature for emerging markets, DSDS now allows people with dual-SIM devices to individually manage two different SIMs for calling, texting or data through the simple “SIM Manager” UI. For example, you might wish to swap between a business and home SIM or if traveling may want to use a local SIM to eliminate roaming charges. It’s also possible to import contacts from each SIM into the device.

Capture sharper images and videos and locate them faster: Continuous autofocus (dependent on device compatibility) and flash are now supported, empowering you to take better photos and videos. The Galley app also receives several feature and performance improvements including content arrangement by month and file-information display, showing useful data such as date taken, file type and file size.

Direct access to your music: Several improvements for media apps are in this release including access to music controls in the notifications tray or from the lock screen. The FM Radio app can now also be played through the phone’s loudspeaker.

Lock screen showing music controls

Lock screen showing music controls

Adaptive app search enhancement: With adaptive app search, you can now also search for apps from the Firefox Marketplace, in addition to the Web, making it easier to find your favorite content.

Smart Collections: Firefox OS automatically groups your apps into smart collections on your homescreen relating to a specific app categories, for example: Social, Games, Music, Showbiz etc. By clicking on one of these categories, lets say gaming, you will see a list of all your installed games and clearly delineated below; a list of suggested new gaming apps you might like to try out. You can also save specific searches that interest you on the homescreen as new smart collections (examples: recipes, sports, news) by tapping the star icon under the search bar.

More options for messaging:

  • MMS/SMS: You can now send MMS messages to email addresses and add a subject line. Firefox OS will automatically switch an SMS to an MMS if you decide to add an image or video. You can also save message drafts and can opt to receive delivery notifications when a message is read by the recipient.
  • Email: Now supports email notifications and POP3, one of the most popular ways to connect to email accounts.

Advanced Bluetooth makes sharing easier: Multiple Bluetooth file transfers are now supported, allowing you to share multiple photos or MP3s with other devices simultaneously.

Performance improvements: Enhanced scrolling performance and faster app startup times throughout the various system apps (e.g. calendar, address book, camera etc.), means you can get to what you’re looking for quicker.

Languages supported: Bengali, Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese (Traditional), Croatian, Czech, Dutch, English, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil), Romanian, Russian, Serbian (Cyrillic & Latin), Slovak, Spanish, Turkish.

For Developers:

Improved support for Graphics and Gaming: This update will ship with some great optimizations for games. With WebGL, asm.js and WebAudio support now included, developers will be able to bring superior and engaging gaming experiences to Firefox OS phones.

Experiment with NFC: This update includes NFC enablers starting with the availability of the WebNFC API. Developers will be able to begin experimenting with NFC pairing and tag reading in their apps, with additional NFC functionality coming in futures updates.

Improved Gecko Platform Capabilities with new WebAPIs:
This release is based on Gecko 28 and includes several new WebAPIs. Shared workers enable more powerful data processing and resource sharing so developers can write faster applications. Among the new APIs, SpeakerManager gives developers access to the phone’s speaker allowing application such as the FM Radio to be listened to without headphones. The WebIccManager API, which allows support for multiple SIM cards, has also been updated. These new APIs continue to build more functionality and features into the Web for app development.

Audio Streaming with RTSP: We have now built the RTSP streaming framework and have completed support for audio streaming allowing developers to leverage their existing music technologies to target Firefox OS users.

This Firefox OS update is now available for handset manufacturers to deploy to their existing in-market phones and for developer phones.

More Information:

Update on Metro

Johnathan Nightingale

Earlier this week, I asked our engineering leads and release managers to take the Windows Metro version of Firefox off the trains. The team is solid and did good work, but shipping a 1.0 version, given the broader context we see for the Metro platform, would be a mistake.

Mozilla builds software to make the world better, but we have to pick our battles. We’re not as tiny as we were when we shipped Firefox 1.0, but we still need to focus on the projects with the most impact for our mission; the massive scale of our competitors and of the work to be done requires us to marshal our forces appropriately.

In late 2012, when I started up the Firefox for Metro team (I know that’s not what Microsoft calls it anymore, but it remains how we talk about it in Mozilla), it looked like the next battleground for the Web. Windows is a massive ecosystem and Microsoft pushes its new platforms hard. At first, it looked like we would be locked out completely. We eventually broke open Metro (though never the RT line of ARM-based products) and we got to work.

In the months since, as the team built and tested and refined the product, we’ve been watching Metro’s adoption. From what we can see, it’s pretty flat. On any given day we have, for instance, millions of people testing pre-release versions of Firefox desktop, but we’ve never seen more than 1000 active daily users in the Metro environment.

This leaves us with a hard choice. We could ship it, but it means doing so without much real-world testing. That’s going to mean lots of bugs discovered in the field, requiring a lot of follow up engineering, design, and QA effort. To ship it without doing that follow up work is not an option. If we release a product, we maintain it through end of life. When I talk about the need to pick our battles, this feels like a bad one to pick: significant investment and low impact.

Instead, we pull it. This opens up the risk that Metro might take off tomorrow and we’d have to scramble to catch back up, but that’s a better risk for us to take than the real costs of investment in a platform our users have shown little sign of adopting. The code will live on – many of us feel a great attachment to the product regardless of its market – but we’ll focus our efforts in places where we can reach more people. There’s a lot more of that work still to do.

Johnathan Nightingale, VP Firefox

Test the New Firefox Sync and Customize the New UI in Firefox Aurora

Mozilla

welcome-to-sync

A new version of Firefox Aurora for Windows, Mac and Linux is ready for download and testing. This update includes major changes to Firefox’s UI. This includes flexible customization options, a new streamlined look, and a new version of Firefox Sync.

Simplified and flexible user interface: Firefox Aurora includes a redesign of the browser interface to help you get things done, faster. Tabs have a new fluid and streamlined shape and non-active tabs blend into the background to make it faster for you to find and focus on the tab you want. A new menu contains the most popular features including copy, paste, zoom, as well as add-ons all in one spot with easy to identify visual icons.

Flexible customization: In Firefox Aurora we’ve made browser customization easier and more discoverable. The new customization function in the menu allows you to prioritize features in the menu, toolbar, and tab bar by simply dragging them to the desired position. You can easily remove or move any of your browser’s buttons, including add-ons, based on your preferences. This makes it faster and easier to access the features you use the most.

Firefox Accounts with Firefox Sync:
With this Aurora update we are introducing Firefox Accounts as a safe and easy way for you to create an account that enables you to sign in and take your Firefox with you anywhere. With Firefox Accounts, we can better integrate services into your Web experience. The new Firefox Sync makes it even easier to setup and add multiple devices while delivering end-to-end encryption. Simply enter your email address during setup and choose a password to complete the setup process. If you are currently a Firefox Sync user, you will see no change in Firefox Aurora.

We need our adventurous group of Firefox Aurora users to help us test these new features and provide feedback as we continue to improve performance and features.

For more information:

Firefox for Windows 8 Touch Beta is Ready for Testing

Mozilla

Firefox for Windows 8 Touch Beta is ready for download and testing. This touch-friendly, tile-based Firefox is optimized for Microsoft’s Windows 8 Modern UI and designed to ensure users get the best Firefox browsing experience possible on their Windows 8 tablets, touch-screen laptops and other compatible devices.

Firefox for Windows 8 Touch Beta has a new tile-based Firefox start screen with one-tap access to Top Sites, Bookmarks and History. You can continue to use familiar Firefox features like the Awesome Bar.

Firefox for Windows 8 Touch Beta supports Touch and Swipe gestures such as ‘pinch to zoom’ and one-touch swipe transitions. Other key features are:

  • Full, Snapped and Fill views: These options let you chose if you want to view an app full-screen, or ‘snapped’ to a narrow region of the screen (typically to the left of the screen like a sidebar), or if you’d like your app to ‘fill’ the remaining screen area not already occupied by an app in ‘snapped’ state.

  • Visual Navigation: The big tiles on the start screen make browsing a more visually-rich experience and are easy to recognize and tap. The tile-based interface simplifies auto-complete and makes searching quick and easy.

  • Windows Share integration: Share a Web page or a piece of content from any Web page to any of your installed social networks.

Firefox for Windows 8

Before you begin testing, make sure that Firefox Beta is your Windows 8 default browser. Then share feedback and file any bugs.

If you’re on Windows 8, visit the Windows Start screen to locate the Firefox tile. On Windows 8.1, visit the All Apps Screen, locate the tile there and pin it to your start screen. Find more details here.  Please remember to share your feedback and file any bugs. Happy testing!

For More Information:

 

Preview of Firefox Launcher for Android

Mozilla

Today, at the InContext Conference, Mozilla and EverythingMe showed off a sneak-peak of the upcoming release of Firefox Launcher for Android.

We’re working together to deliver the best mobile Web experience to people everywhere – regardless of location, platform or device. We are happy to expand our work together with this new product to give people more smart, easy and innovative ways to personalize their Web experience and meet their needs in any context.

Firefox Launcher for Android makes it easy to discover the content you want in any moment and is optimized for the way you use your phone. The app integrates the contextual adaptive app search from EverythingMe with the Firefox for Android Web browser to offer users a personalized and customizable Web experience that is fun and intuitive

We’ll share updates soon as development is finished and we get ready for beta testing, but here is a screenshot that shows the app in action to keep you busy until then.

Firefox Launcher

 

Test the New Firefox Sync on Nightly Release Channel

Mozilla

We are testing a new version of Firefox Sync on the Nightly release channel. The new Firefox Sync enables you to safely and easily take your browsing data (including bookmarks, open tabs and passwords) between devices with complete end-to-end encryption, and now has an even easier way to setup the service and add multiple devices.

If you aren’t currently a Firefox Sync user, you can turn it on in Nightly and you will be guided through a quick setup process. All you have to do is enter your email address and choose a password. To sync additional devices, you simply enter the same email and password.

If you are a current Firefox Sync user, we’ll continue to sync your data between your devices.

We’ll share more about the new Firefox Sync as development and testing progress.

For more information: