Between its use of SPDY by default and speed gains through Mozilla's "Project Snappy," Firefox 13 has been generating excitement for some time already. Now, the final version of the software is here at last.
Mozilla on Tuesday launched this latest version of its popular free and open source browser, which comes packed with numerous significant new features that promise to make life better for users in myriad ways.
If you already use Firefox, this new update will likely be on its way to you automatically through Mozilla's now nearly silent update process, which debuted in the Windows version of Firefox 12.
If you've been using something else to browse the Web, though, this would be a great time to give Firefox a fresh look. The video below offers an overview of what's new, but here are a few key reasons why Firefox 13 is well worth checking out.
Though SPDY has been included in Mozilla's browser since Firefox 11, Firefox 13 marks the first time it's been enabled by default. Designed as a successor to HTTP, SPDY reduces the amount of time it takes for websites to load, so "you will notice faster page load times on sites that support SPDY networking, like Google and Twitter," according to today's official announcement on the Mozilla blog.
SPDY also delivers a boost in security to Firefox 13 thanks to the fact that it encrypts all communication with SSL so as to make browsing more secure.
3. A New Home
Those of us who have been using Firefox for some time will notice a freshly redesigned home page in version 13. Now included, for example, are icons at the bottom of the page that provide easy access to bookmarks, history, settings, add-ons, downloads, and sync preferences via one-click shortcuts.
4. A New Tab Experience
Firefox 13 also offers a better experience when you open a new tab, similar in many ways to how Google's Chrome browser does it. Specifically, you'll see thumbnails of your most recently and frequently visited sites. The software also lets you customize the New Tab page by adding or removing thumbnails based on the pages you visit most.
5. More Speed
I wrote last month about Mozilla's "Project Snappy," and several key improvements from that effort combine to give Firefox 13 yet more speed. For example, when restoring a browsing session, Firefox first loads the tab you are currently viewing, then it loads background tabs on demand when you click them. "It's an improvement that makes Firefox start faster and use less memory," Mozilla explains.
Also resulting from Project Snappy are an improved mechanism for reducing Firefox's memory usage, a faster "first paint" when the browser is launched, and several other improvements.
6. It Speaks Your Language
Last but not least, Firefox 13 adds support for the Khmer language, making the browser accessible to an additional 15 million users around the globe. Firefox is now available in more than 85 languages.