Firefox 11 to get add-on sync

Changes are afoot again for Firefox. The beta channel can now sync add-ons, the Aurora channel completes a smoother update process, and work on the faster native UI for Android continues.

See this? Not for much longer, Firefox users on Windows.

(Credit: Mozilla)

Following the update to Firefox stable earlier this week, Mozilla released yesterday updates to its Aurora and Beta versions that introduce some pretty hefty changes for Firefox on PCs.

Firefox 11 beta (download for Windows | Mac | Linux) presages some hefty changes for the browser. The biggest one, which wasn't present in the Firefox 11 Aurora release, is add-on sync. You'll now be able to mirror the same add-on installations and settings across multiple desktops. Though Google Chrome has been able to sync add-ons for some time, its implementation has been notably uneven, so it'll be interesting to see how well Firefox handles it.

A more silent update process is coming to Firefox on Windows, also mimicking Chrome's updates. Windows' User Account Control will require user input for updates only once; thereafter, updates will occur seamlessly when the browser is restarted. The benefit of this is that security updates generally won't require any unusual user action. This is first available in the new Firefox 12 Aurora (download for Windows, Mac, and Linux).

Accompanying it will be a change in the Mozilla add-on policy, so that the majority of add-ons--about 80 percent--will be marked as compatible by default. This is now in Firefox 11 beta.

(Credit: Mozilla)

Once an update has been pushed from Mozilla's servers, it will wait up to 12 hours for the user to restart the browser. After half a day, it will open a notification window asking the user to restart, but there is an option to ignore it. In the blog post announcing Firefox 11 beta, Mozilla said that about only 1 percent of users will ever see it.

The new beta also includes support for Google's SPDY protocol for faster and safer site loading, a 3D view for the Page Inspector developer's tool, a live update option for changing CSS code on the fly, and support for importing data from Chrome. It's a bit strange to think that this hasn't been offered before, given how Chrome's market share has grown.

There was no release yesterday of a new Firefox for Android beta or Aurora, because Mozilla is focusing its Android team on the new native interface. It landed in Firefox 11 Aurora, and is notable for being significantly faster and supporting Flash video. Originally, it didn't work with Firefox Sync, although that was recently fixed. Firefox 11 for all platforms is due in March.

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