Last week, Firefox 4 launched with a host of new features and was quickly downloaded by nearly 40 million people and counting. Google’s Chrome browser is only two years old, but is already packing a punch with its helpful shortcuts, plug-ins, and more. Safari and IE are classics, and they come preinstalled on Macs and PCs respectively.I’ve been a Firefox supporter for years, but as Chrome grows in popularity, so does my use of it. What about you?Which Web Browser Do You Use?Google ChromeFirefoxSafariInternet Explorer
Web based apps are the new desktop apps. There are web apps for playing games, watching videos, listening to music, creating and editing office documents, and the list goes on. While I still prefer editing audio, video, and images using dedicated desktop tools, there are even web apps for that.
But sometimes if all you want to do is access your email account or an online image editor like Picnik, you don’t really need to fire up a full fledged web browser. A while back Mozilla created a project called Prism that lets you create a desktop shortcut that will open just a single page at a time in a stripped down version of Firefox. Now it looks like Mozilla is planning on integrating that feature with a future version of Firefox.
Here’s how it would work. When you visit a web-based application, you’d be able to click a button to turn it into a desktop app. This would create a desktop shortcut to the application and users would be able to open a window showing just that app. For certain applications, like the Flickr Uploader or Zoho Docs, Firefox might allow you to drag and drop files to upload or create file associations in your operating system so that every time you click on a Word document, for example, Zoho Docs would be opened instead of Microsoft Word.
Right now these features are still in the planning stages. But we could see them in future versions of Firefox. Of course, Google Chrome already has a similar feature which lets you create an application shortcut out of any web page with a click of a button using Google Gears.
Apparently there are nerds in space, too. This was spotted in variable star V838 Monocerotis of the constellation Monoceros and, holy moley, it looks like the Firefox logo! Whatever. I’ll be impressed when we see a celestial body that looks like an iPod.
Firefox has just hit 500 million downloads worldwide; it is an impressive statistic and we think everyone who works on the project should get a pat on the back. As if their contribution in creating a kick-ass browser was not enough to the world, the Mozilla team is celebrating by raising funds for 500 million grains of rice, which they will give away to poverty stricken nations.
To be completely honest with you guys, I did kind of download Firefox twice when I was installing it. I threw the extra .dmg file right in the trash, which obviously means they are still on 499,999,999 downloads. What the heck, what’s one download between friends, apart from a heap of rice goodness? Jump in and let the Mozilla team know how much you appreciate not having to choose between IE or Safari.
Wow… I’ve actually gotten used to using Netscape 9, which is a nice version of Firefox v2…
That is just too bad!
As we bid adieu to 2007 and prepare to enter the new year, AOL is also saying goodbye to memories: the company has finally killed off the Netscape Web browser – or what was left of it, anyway.
Alpha 6 of Firefox 3.0, aka Gran Paradiso, includes an upgraded SQLite engine, the database that serves as the back-end storage house for Places – a new history and bookmark manager. Other Alpha 6 upgrades include improved cookie performance; support for site-specific preferences, such as text size; and enhancements of the add-on and download tools.
As usual, Mozilla waved off casual users. “Gran Paradiso Alpha 6 is intended for web developers and the Mozilla testing community only, with regular end users strongly advised to stick with the stable Firefox 2 for now,” the company-hosted mozillaZine site said.
Mozilla plans to release the first public version of Firefox 3.0 Beta 1 on 31 July. According to the updated roll-out schedule, Beta 2 will appear in September, and the final release is due sometime before the end of the year.
In other Firefox news, Mozilla’s upgrade offer to users of Version 1.5 has resulted in more than 3 million downloads of Firefox 2.0 since last Thursday. Upgrades topped out at around 30 per second, but have settled down at about 13 per second, Mozilla said.
Users are asked to choose whether to update to 2.0, delay the update or permanently reject it. Mozilla is trying to get all users to upgrade to the current browser because support for Firefox 1.5 ended in May. That same fate will befall Firefox 2.0 six months after Version 3.0 launches.
Alpha 6 can be downloaded for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux at the Mozilla website.
Gran Paradiso doesn’t actually uninstall Firefox 2.0 though, so you can install Gran Paradiso and uninstall it with minimal risk. Except there’s a chance you might lose some bookmarks. That’s because the biggest change in the latest build is that Mozilla has added “Places,” a new way of managing bookmarks, RSS subscriptions, and browser history in your sidebar.
Places first showed up in Firefox 2 Alpha 1, but has been disabled for the last few builds. It makes its triumphent return with Alpha 5, but you probably won’t really notice any changes, since there’s no graphical redesign to go along with the changes under the hood.
Some other updates:
Some IE users say they are reluctant to make the switch from IE to Firefox because IE is the only web browser they have ever used. Now you can make the switch for them, without them ever knowing the difference.
John Haller has come up with a “How to Guide” for making Firefox look just like Internet Explorer. Haller maintains on his site that he created the “How To”” not as a tribute to IE but as a way to show everything Firefox is capable of doing, and how liking the IE layout is not a reason to stick with the browser. He furthers his point by saying “I still think Internet Explorer should be removed, placed in the corner and set on fire.”
The tip can also be great for going undercover in places like schools and businesses that don’t allow the use of open source software.
You can get relatively the same effect as John’s guide by using the Firefox Add-on Neofox IE 6 which will make Firefox look like Internet Explorer 6.
Like I said, I’m not sure how useful Tab Effect is, but it’s definitely a cool concept. We’ve seen this sort of effect with desktop-switching before, so tab-switching is a natural progression, but as it stands it’s pretty limited. But it’s only 1.0, so maybe after a few revisions it’ll be mind-blowingly speedy, intuitive, and useful.
Mozilla designer, Alex Faaborg, has recently written an entry that explains how Firefox 3 might be able to use Microformats which will allow Firefox able to connect the browser with all sorts of applications on your computer, in a similar way to what we have today with the different media players. Alex says:
“Much in the same way that operating systems currently associate particular file types with specific applications, future Web browsers are likely going to associate semantically marked up data you encounter on the Web with specific applications, either on your system or online. This means the contact information you see on a Web site will be associated with your favorite contacts application, events will be associated with your favorite calendar application, locations will be associated with your favorite mapping application, phone numbers will be associated with your favorite VOIP application, etc.”
Here is an image from Mozilla that exemplifies what they will try to achieve with Microformats:
This only helps to confirm that the web browser will continue to have an increasing importance in our lives and the way that we interact with machines. Who knows, maybe the future isn’t about Operative Systems, but rather about the browser you use.