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Firefox 5 released; faster release cycle and fewer features

It was only a few weeks ago that Firefox 4 was finally released after a development cycle lasting over a year. While Firefox 4 added features & speed, Mozilla believe more should be done to keep up with Google’s increasingly popular browser, Chrome.

New Release Cycle

Firefox 5 marks the start of Mozilla’s attempt at a quick release cycle. By releasing a new version of it’s browser every 6 weeks they hope to match Google’s development speed. Mozilla have already announced that Firefox 6 and 7 will be out later this year.

Mozilla have also implemented a similar channel system to the one Chrome is using. Aurora, Beta and Stable are available for Firefox, matching Dev, Beta and Stable for Chrome.

New Features

While Firefox 5 does not share the same great wealth of new additions like the previous version there are still plenty of great new features – some that are unique to Firefox.

Stirring up chatter around the net is the new ‘Do-Not-Track’ option. Firefox will prevent websites from tracking your online behaviour, and thwart targeted adverts based on your browsing history. While this feature may be very useful for paranoid users of the net, most people should appreciate the gesture as web privacy (or rather, the lack of) becomes an increasingly hot topic.

After a huge code change in Firefox 4, Mozilla claims they have made over 1,000 improvements to Firefox 5 in areas of performance and user interface usability.

General web browsing and Javascript speed has been improved, while memory usage has seen a decrease over Firefox 4.

Firefox 5 Javascript Benchmark

Thanks to Computing.co.uk for benchmark

As per usual, Mozilla have included new web standards into its latest browser. Further support for HTML 5 has been added to supportCanvas, which allows web developers torender bitmaps and 2D shapes dynamically. CSS3 support has been improved by adding CSS Animations.

Verdict

While Firefox 5 has seen some minor new features, tweaks and speed improvements; there isn’t a whole lot to get excited about.

I believe we should all be excited that Firefox 5 marks the start of a new, quicker, development cycle. We will see new versions of Firefox more often, keeping up with Google’s pace and hopefully making a more competitive browser competition.

Where To Get It?

Firefox 5 can be downloaded now from the official Firefox website.

Ubuntu 10.04 and 10.10 users can add the Stable Firefox PPA to update their version of Firefox to 5.0:

ppa:mozillateam/firefox-stable

Note that Firefox 5.0 has not yet been built in this PPA.

Ubuntu 11.04 users don’t need to add any PPA; Firefox 5 will be available in the official Ubuntu11.04repos in the next few days. It will automatically update your version of Firefox 4 to 5.

What’s Next?

Now with Firefox 5 out of the way, what’s coming next?

Firefox 6 will be released in August, but can currently be tested in the Nightly channel. The main new features include aData Management Window whichprovides control over the the access that specific websites have to your browsing data, including cookies, passwords and location information.

datamanagementui

The Add-on Manager will now check to see if your plugins and add-ons are compatible with the current version Firefox your using.

Memory usage and startup time will be improved in Firefox 6.

Web developers will be getting some love, with support for a new Web Development menu. New development tools will also be added such as Scratchpad which will allow developers toquickly build and test JavaScript snippets in the browser. Finally,Web Console adds the ability to move the console to other parts of the window or break out into a separate window.

While improvements to HTML5, DOM level 3,server-sent events, networking technologies and other tools will all help developers create better Web Apps.