All posts in “Firefox”

Firefox for iOS gets persistent private browsing tabs

Firefox for iOS is getting an update today that brings a new layout for its menu and settings, as well as new organization settings in the New Tabs features to iPhone and iPad users. But more importantly, it is also introducing persistent Private Browsing tabs that allow you to keep private browsing tabs alive across sessions.

Typically, when you exit Firefox, your private browsing sessions will exit, too. Now, when you relaunch Firefox, you’ll be right back in your private browsing sessions. And while it’s important to remember that private browsing doesn’t render you anonymous, it does automatically erase your cookies, passwords and browsing history. Sometimes you want those to persist across your sessions, though, given that it’s annoying to have to re-enter your passwords every time you quite the app, for example, and now Firefox lets you do that until you actively exit the private browsing mode.

“Keeping your private browsing preferences seamless is just another way we’re making it simple and easy to give you back control of the privacy of your online experience,” Mozilla explains in today’s announcement.

With this updates, users now also get different options to organize the view they see when they open a blank new tab. You can now chose between having new tabs open to your bookmarks list, Firefox Home (which features your top sites and recommendations from the Mozilla-owned Pocket), a list of your recent history or a custom URL (with your own homepage, for example). Or, if you just like to see a white page, you can also opt to see a blank page.

As for the new settings and menu layout, Mozilla notes that these now closely mirror the Firefox desktop version. That means you can now access your bookmarks, history, Reading List and download from the Library menu item, for example.

Pocket’s reading app won’t sound so robotic now

Last year, Mozilla made its first acquisition by snatching up Pocket, the Instapaper competitor that helps you save longer articles for later reading. Today, this popular reading app is getting a major update that gives its app a visual makeover, including a new dark mode, and most importantly, a better way to listen to the content you’ve saved.

Pocket had added a text-to-speech feature several years ago, so you could listen to an audio version of your saved articles, instead of reading them. Instapaper today offers a similar option.

But these text-to-speech engines often sound robotic and mangle words, leading to a poor listening experience. They’ll work in a pinch when you really need to catch up with some reading, and can’t sit down to do it. But they’re definitely not ideal.

Today, Pocket is addressing this problem with the launch of a new listening feature that will allow for a more human-sounding voice. On iOS and Android, the listen feature will be powered by Amazon Polly, Mozilla says.

First introduced at Amazon’s re:Invent developer event in November 2016, Polly uses machine learning technologies to deliver more life-like speech. Polly also understands words in context. For example, it knows that the word “live” would be pronounced differently based on its usage. (E.g. “I live in Seattle” vs. “Live from New York.”) The technology has evolved since to support speech marks, a timbre effect, and dynamic range compression, among other things.

To take advantage of the updated “Listen” feature, users just tap the new icon in the top-left corner of the Pocket mobile app to start playing their articles. It’s like your own personalized podcast, Mozilla notes.

In addition, the app has been given a redesign that gives it a clean, less cluttered look-and-feel, and introduces a new app-wide dark mode and sephia themes, for those who want a different sort of reading experience.

The redesign includes updated typography and fonts, focused on making long reads more comfortable, as well.

[embedded content]

“At Mozilla, we love the web. Sometimes we want to surf, and the Firefox team has been working on ways to surf like an absolute champ with features like Firefox Advance,” said Mark Mayo, Chief Product Officer at Firefox, in a statement about the launch. “Sometimes, though, we want to settle down and read or listen to a few great pages. That’s where Pocket shines, and the new Pocket makes it even easier to enjoy the best of the web when you’re on the go in your own focused and uncluttered space,” he said.

The updated version of Pocket is live on the web, iOS and Android, as of today.

Firefox finally gets an option to mute sites with autoplay sound

Autoplay videos are about to get a lot less annoying if you use Firefox.

In the newest version of the experimental Firefox Nightly Edition (version 63.0a1), the popular web browser now gives users control over whether a site is allowed to autoplay videos when it loads. Mozilla announced this feature in a product roadmap earlier this year.

For the uninitiated, Mozilla regularly releases a pre-release version of the latest Firefox build. The new autoplay video-blocking feature has just made its live debut in the Firefox Nightly 63.0a1 version. The official release of Firefox 63, which is slated for the October 23 should make autoplay blocking available to all Firefox users who upgrade to the latest version.

While Firefox has long blocked ads with autoplaying sound, this build introduces the first time Firefox allows its users to block any sort of autoplaying media on a website.

Firefox users who would like to take advantage of this feature have a few options. They can choose to block all autoplaying media, or receive a pop-up warning for each individual website and choose whether you’d like the autoplaying media to turn on or off. Users also have the option to just let all autoplaying media function as intended, but we can’t imagine why anyone would do this.

While Google’s Chrome web browser launched its autoplay blocking feature earlier this year, Firefox’s own autoplaying blocker is still quite notable. While Chrome is far and away the most used web browser globally, statcounter, which tracks worldwide browser usage, places Firefox at over 5 percent of the browser market share.

If enough people block the annoying scourge that is autoplaying videos with sound through their browser, perhaps this internet pet peeve will eventually just die out.

Https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws.com%2fuploads%2fvideo uploaders%2fdistribution thumb%2fimage%2f709%2f194aa7b8 b951 41a6 8a42 32439d6f8d44

Firefox’s Quantum update will block websites from tracking you 24/7

Image: AOP.PRESS/Corbis via Getty Images

Mozilla‘s speedy Firefox Quantum browser hit the ground running when it rolled out in November

On Tuesday, Mozilla released an update to the browser, called Firefox 58. Its most significant feature: 24/7 tracking protection.  

The Firefox browser was one of the first to introduce tracking protection in 2015. The feature, when enabled, aggressively blocked ads, analytics trackers, and social share buttons that record user behavior on websites. 

Previously, you needed to be using Private Browsing (Firefox’s equivalent of Chrome’s Incognito Windows) to enable Tracking Protection. But once you download today’s update, you can enable Tracking Protection to always be on, regardless of browsing mode. 

Image: mozilla

To turn on 24/7 Tracking Protection, open “Preferences,” click “Privacy and Security,” and then select “Always” under “Tracking Protection.” 

Mozilla also claims that web pages load more quickly when trackers are disabled. So even if you’re not afraid of websites’ snooping, you should still give this browser a chance. 

Https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws.com%2fuploads%2fvideo uploaders%2fdistribution thumb%2fimage%2f82393%2feed8fce2 f8d2 424b ba39 b01bc8139948

Firefox users lose trust in Mozilla after a ‘Mr. Robot’ promo went horribly wrong

Image: NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Protip for Mozilla and the USA Network: In the future when you’re plotting a tie-in for a show about vigilante hackers, maybe don’t actually compromise people’s privacy.

Some Firefox users were none too thrilled to discover that the web browser had installed an add-on called “Looking Glass” without permission. Bearing a description that read simply, in all-caps, “MY REALITY IS JUST DIFFERENT THAN YOURS,” people were understandably suspicious.

(The all-caps utterance, it should be noted, is a quote from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.)

That last tweet is from a Mozilla employee, in case it’s not clear.

Looking Glass turned out to be a promotional tie-in for Mr. Robot, serving as the foundation for a new alternate reality game. But the initial lack of clarity as to its purpose, coupled with the fact that it installed unprompted, caused understandable alarm.

Once it became clear that users were unhappy, Mozilla moved quickly to set things right. The initial 1.0.3 version of the Firefox extension featured the cryptic Carroll quote and nothing else, as TechCrunch noted, but a subsequent 1.0.4 update included texting explaining its purpose as an ARG.

Mozilla also created a support page to more thoroughly explain Looking Glass, and make it clear that users would have to opt in if they wanted to participate in the ARG. On top of that, the support page includes a vague mea culpa that lays out Mozilla’s mission and commitment to giving people “more control over their lives online.”

The Mr. Robot series centers around the theme of online privacy and security. One of the 10 guiding principles of Mozilla’s mission is that individuals’ security and privacy on the internet are fundamental and must not be treated as optional. The more people know about what information they are sharing online, the more they can protect their privacy.

Mozilla exists to build the Internet as a public resource accessible to all because we believe open and free is better than closed and controlled. We build products like Firefox to give people more control over their lives online.

Looking Glass didn’t self-install in every version of Firefox, and as the conversation around it grew, users began to figure out what happened. The extension is a product of Mozilla’s Shield Studies program, which is a “user testing platform for proposed, new and existing features and ideas.”

While some Shield Studies testing items prompt users for approval before installing, others are added automatically and require a manual opt-out. And, as some discovered, it’s possible to participate in Shield Studies without specifically opting in (h/t Engadget).

Ultimately, Looking Glass doesn’t actually do anything unless the user in question chooses to participate in the Mr. Robot ARG. But this is a trust issue more than anything else. And with Mozilla’s Firefox Quantum update freshly launched — and vying to bring back users stolen away by Google Chrome — this secretly added extension is not a good look.

Https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws.com%2fuploads%2fvideo uploaders%2fdistribution thumb%2fimage%2f83773%2fe7fd392b 03d9 4164 a2de 08e6204fbdea