In the web browser wars of the 2010s, Google Chrome has positioned itself with a comfortable lead, seemingly taking as much market share as everyone else combined. Mozilla Firefox once towered over them all, but a steady decline in perceived performance and stability, especially on mobile devices, hurt its staying power.
With the big Quantum overhaul starting about a year ago, however, Firefox is not retreating from the battlefield, and almost every major release has brought new and interesting features and improvements.
Today marks the release of version 64 of Mozilla Firefox (Android, iOS, Windows, Mac), and with it comes some welcome upgrades to tab management, better link sharing for Windows 10 users, and a tool that can detect how you use Firefox and use that info to recommend browser features that you might not be aware of.
First up is the new tab management. In the desktop version of Firefox, you can now select individual tabs by holding down the Ctrl key and clicking each one, or holding down the Shift key and clicking to select a group of tabs. Selected tabs will have a blue line at the top, and you can send groups of them to another device.
Google Chrome (Android, iOS) also has this feature on desktops, but it behaves somewhat differently. When you select an additional tab in Chrome, it will reload that page and put it in the foreground, whereas Firefox keeps it in the background and does not load the page again. Chrome does this for each tab that you add to the selected group, which seems comparatively unnecessary.
In some instances, you may know about Firefox's tab upgrade already, thanks to another addition to the browser that Mozilla calls the Contextual Feature Recommender, or CFR. As you use the browser over the course of the day, the CFR will detect features and extensions that may be of use to you, and provide explainers or download links.
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Mozilla says that the CFR will be deactivated when you're in Private Browsing mode, and that the company doesn't see your browsing history, adding, "The entire process happens locally in your copy of Firefox."
Firefox will be highlighting three extensions with this update: Facebook Container, Enhancer for YouTube and To Google Translate. If you don't want any extension recommendations, you can disable this feature by clicking the hamburger menu in the upper right, selecting Options, scrolling down to the Browsing section, and unchecking the box next to "Recommend extensions as you browse."
Windows 10 users also have a sharing tool integrated into the operating system itself, and with Firefox 64, the browser can now plug into that instead of using its own setup. You can access sharing from the Page Actions menu (aka the hamburger menu).
Overall, we can confidently say that Firefox on both desktop and mobile is back in business, at least in terms of feature parity, speed, and stability. We'll see if 2019 brings the most important element of all: restored market share.
- Mozilla has released version 64 of the Firefox browser, which now has improved tools for tab management and sharing links, and an AI that can explain certain features and recommend extensions based on how you use the app.
- If you don't want extension recommendations, you can disable them in the browser's settings.
- Microsoft will officially rebuild Edge as a Chromium-based browser
- Best Google Chrome alternatives for Microsoft Windows
- Google to improve Chrome extension security with new add-on rules
- Brave browser to embrace Google Chrome extensions
- Windows 10 users: Chrome 70 means you don't need Edge, Microsoft Store to run PWAs (ZDNet)
- Browser wars 2018: Microsoft Edge falls behind ... Internet Explorer? (ZDNet)
- How to use Microsoft Edge on your mobile device (TechRepublic)