Firefox 3.5 Available

Mozilla has just released version 3.5 of its Firefox browser. CNET’s Stephen Shankland:

Firefox 3.5 has a range of new features, including a new JavaScript engine for faster Web applications such as Google Docs; the ability to show video built into Web pages without plug-ins; a private browsing mode; fancy downloadable fonts; and geolocation technology that can let Web sites know where you are.

“So much is happening on the Web right now, it’s a great time for browsers,” said John Lilly, CEO of Firefox backer Mozilla, in a statement. And, he boasted, “Firefox 3.5 brings together the most innovative Web technologies and delivers them in the most complete and powerful modern browser.”

PC World‘s Michael Muchmore adds,

The new version brings a private browsing mode, faster JavaScript performance, and support for emerging HTML 5 standards such as plug-in-free video and audio playing. […] The browser also includes new technology that will allow users to tell sites their location, which will let sites deliver relevant information, for example, about nearby eateries and businesses. The features uses Google Location Services, which obtains your whereabouts using a database of WiFi access points and other known IP addresses.

Though JavaScript performance is more than twice as fast with the browser’s new TraceMonkey engine, it still trails Chrome on benchmark tests performed by PCMag.com. The new video and audio support make use of the Ogg Vorbis and Ogg Theora open source codecs, but these are yet to be adopted by the Web’s governing body, the W3C, as official standards.

A geekier review by UZee at TechnoPath :

This latest update includes many improvements to the rendering engine, including support for native <video> and <audio> tags in accordance with HTML 5 specification, as well as improved support for CSS 2.1 and CSS 3. The TraceMonkey JavaScript engine also saw some fine tuning to make it even more faster allowing a much smoother browsing experience. This however had no effect on the Acid3 score which was still 93, same as the previous version. It is interesting to note that Minefield also got an Acid3 score of 93, meaning that there was no significant change in the JavaScript engine for that release.

I of course downloaded and installed it immediately.  Well, actually, I downloaded it from Mozilla’s site, it took forever, and I wound up with a corrupt file.  I then downloaded it from CNET (linked above) in seconds and installed without difficulty.

A couple of the extensions that I forgot that I had installed are incompatible with the new edition, so it’s probably worth waiting if you use a lot of add-ons.
Via Twitter, Hal Hildebrand reports that the “clear private data” feature has been removed.  As I understand it, it’s been replaced by new features that allow you to browse privately and clear specific sites from your browsing list.  This, no doubt, is designed to hide from your wife or parents that you’re looking at, um, things you might buy them for their birthday.

One thing I noticed immediately is a + button next to the rightmost open tab which instantly opens a new, blank page.  That’s handy.  My workaround had been to open a random new tab from the toolbar.

UPDATE: It’s both shrewd and creepy that a certain company that does no evil is filling the ad slots on this page with promotions for its own, competing browser.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. BigFire says:

    Odd you’re having problem. I click on check update in the help pull down menu, and it went fairly smoothly. Don’t know what else changed.

  2. Eric Florack says:

    One thing I noticed immediately is a + button next to the rightmost open tab which instantly opens a new, blank page. That’s handy. My workaround had been to open a random new tab from the toolbar.

    Keystroke: Ctrl-T.

  3. sam says:

    geolocation technology that can let Web sites know where you are

    And that’s a good thing because? (And, anyway, they can do that now with your ip address. Which I’m not crazy about.)

  4. sam says:

    Oh, I think I get it…that’s for the wifi folks, no? In case they’re roaming about.

  5. Phil Smith says:

    View/toolbars/customize will allow you to add all sorts of buttons, James. I am running 3.0.11 and have the “new window” button.

  6. James Joyner says:

    View/toolbars/customize will allow you to add all sorts of buttons, James. I am running 3.0.11 and have the “new window” button.

    Once upon a time, I tweaked apps like crazy. Now, I pretty much treat my computer as an appliance.

  7. Triumph says:

    UPDATE: It’s both shrewd and creepy that a certain company that does no evil is filling the ad slots on this page with promotions for its own, competing browser.

    I didn’t realize you had ads on your site–one of the advantages of running Firefox with the AdBlock extension (something that Chrome does not have, by the way)!

  8. Triumph says:

    UPDATE: It’s both shrewd and creepy that a certain company that does no evil is filling the ad slots on this page with promotions for its own, competing browser.

    I didn’t realize you had adz on your site. One of the advantages of using Firefox with the advertizement bloocking extension!

  9. Brett says:

    I’m annoyed by the fact that it is incompatible with Norton Toolbar 3.5 right now, but apparently Symantec is really trying to get a fix going.

  10. William d'Inger says:

    Thanks for the heads up. I have written several compute intensive JavaScript applications (like great circle navigation) and have developed my own benchmarks. Firefox v3.5 ran my base benchmark an astounding 3.76 times faster than v3.0. Of course that’s for a specialized application, so I suspect the numbers will be lower for general purpose stuff.

    As far as I know, Chrome isn’t available for Macs yet (or at least it hasn’t been around long enough for me to trust it). I’d like to give it a whirl someday.