Firefox's getUserMedia test page. (Credit: Mozilla)

As the browser becomes the driving engine behind several operating systems, extensive hardware controls are landing as built-in HTML5. The latest developer's build of Firefox Aurora can now record by default video from your camera and audio from your microphone.

Firefox 20 Aurora (download for Windows, for Mac, for Linux, and for Android) has the new hardware API getUserMedia enabled by default, which means that you won't have to use a plugin to record directly from your local camera or mic. In her blog post announcing the update, Maire Reavy, Firefox's product lead on media, provided an example of how to use the gUM API.

Also, she noted that gUM is the first API component of WebRTC, which eventually will allow real-time audio and video calls, and data sharing, through the browser. Other components of WebRTC are not yet ready to be on by default, she wrote.

The W3C hasn't finalized the gUM API standard, either, so for now Firefox maker Mozilla is keeping the API prefix of MozGetUserMedia. This means that if you're using Chrome or another WebKit-driven browser to test demos, you'll have to adjust the navigator.webkitGetUserMedia to include the "moz" prefix.

Further changes in Firefox 20 Aurora include adjustments to private browsing, which turns off local recording of your browsing history and cookies. On desktop Firefox 20, you'll be able to enable private browsing on a per-tab basis, which in Firefox 20 for Android the feature will be available per-window.

A new download manager is also coming to desktop Firefox, as well as the ability to close a frozen plugin without the tab itself hanging. Performance improvements will affect page load times, download management, and browser shutdown.

In Firefox for Android, the browser gets Gingerbread and Honeycomb support for H.264, AAC, and MP3 decoders. The mobile browser's system requirements have been lowered, as well, so that it works on devices with QVGA displays and 384 MB of RAM.

You can read full release notes for Firefox 20 Aurora for desktop and Firefox 20 Aurora for Android.