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Firefox 3.5 now available

Saturday, October 24, 2009 , Posted by Technoratti-Anuraag at 12:46 PM

Its been a long wait, but Firefox 3.5 is finally here, with perhaps a little less pomp than the world record setting Firefox 3.

While Firefox 3.5 is unlikely to beat its predecessor's world record of
8 million downloads in one day, this one is still a significant step forward, especially with its support for many of the HTML5 features we're all waiting for. What was meant to be a rather small 3.1 update has now become a major version in its own right.

Since the release of Google Chrome, the browser world had become rather more complicated, with some praising its simplicity while others criticizing its lack of features and lack of extendability. Most browsers have had to adapt to the Chrome's new innovative tab managements system, a feature has since been adopted in Opera and Safari too, and as of Firefox 3.5, you can now tear away tabs, and recombine them into the same window.

Another feature of Firefox which comes as a result of peer pressure is a private Browsing mode. By clicking on "Start Private Browsing" (shortcut Ctrl+Shift+P) you can now enter a land of no worries. No traces of your actions during a Private Browsing session are maintained across sessions. Even besides that the privacy features have been ramped up, and now you can choose to discard only the "offending" part of your history, for the last hour, two hours, four hours, or day.

Amongst the forefront of HTML 5 features in Firefox 3.5 are the video and audio tags that allow you to embed video and audio directly in the browser without needing messy plugins, and despite a lack of recommendation in the HTML5 specification, comes with ogg, vorbis, and theora support out of the box. Other important HTML5 features available in Firefox 3.5 are support for offline resources, for allowing web applications to store data locally on a users comp, and drag-and-drop support which can be used by future web-apps for better interactivity.

Firefox 3.5 packs an updated Gecko 1.9.1 layout engine and the new TraceMonkey javascript just-in-time (JIT) compiler for blazing fast JavaScript execution, which means faster running web-apps, although it still doesn't manage to overtake Safari 4 or Chrome 3.

Other improvements in speed can come from Web-Workers which will allow web-developers to create multi-threaded web applications resulting in more responsive interfaces even while complicated JavaScript application churn away in the background, and native support for JSON. All resulting in a much happier Ajax experience.

Location sensitive browsing support is now also a part of Firefox. Web sites can now access data about your physical location to provide targeted content, and can share you location with others (with your permission, of-course!). With the new era of multi-touch computing Firefox is now also multi-touch aware, with support for pinching and swiping gestures for zooming, and moving in the history respectively.

This rather impressive list of features, which was more than what was initially planned was enough for it to be upgraded from a simple single point release (and till beta 3 it was Firefox 3.1) to rather more significant 3.5 release. This isn't the end of line for the Firefox 3 series though, coming up next is Firefox 3.6 (earlier 3.2) which besides other things will bring you a new graphical tab-switcher. Look out Safari, Opera and Chrome, your competition has arrived!

Download Firefox 3.5 here.
The geeky version of the list of features of Firefox 3.5.

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