First Look: Firefox 34

The fact that modern browsers update silently and often occasionally takes some of the savor out of a new release. Rapid releases mean new features are deployed in a dribble, rather than in bursts. With Firefox 34, however, Mozilla has bucked the trend, giving us a swath of new features to enjoy all at once. Have a look.

firefox
Why, Hello there

The fact that modern browsers update silently and often occasionally takes some of the savor out of a new release. Rapid releases mean new features are deployed in a dribble, rather than in bursts. With Firefox 34, however, Mozilla has bucked the trend, giving us a swath of new features to enjoy all at once. Have a look.

120214 firstlook firefox 2
The Yahoo switch

The most talked-about change to Firefox 34 by some margin is the decision to swap the browser’s default search engine from Google to Yahoo. Despite a long-standing relationship with Google, Mozilla has publicly decried the search giant’s growing control over the end-user’s online experience, which is thought to have played a role in prompting the switch.

120214 firstlook firefox 3
Hello!

Move over, Gchat and/or Hangouts – Hello is a handy little video/VoIP/chat client that sits right in your browser. Mozilla advertises that you can use Hello either via a Mozilla account or by anonymously sharing callback links with the people you want to connect to. (N.B. – You might not see this feature right away, as Mozilla appears to have limited the deployment to 10% of new users in the interest of not overloading its infrastructure.)

120214 firstlook firefox 4
More search love

The upper-right-hand search box got a cool new behavior in Firefox 34, displaying a range of available search engines as you type, and enabling “one-click” searching of a given query from any source you like.

120214 firstlook firefox 5
Quick theme switching

Mozilla included an easy-to-use theme switcher in Firefox 34, for those of you who have trouble committing to a single visual style for the browser. Just pick one already. Please. It’s really not fair to the other themes.

120214 firstlook firefox 6
Credit: Poodletest.com
SSLv3 disabled

Firefox has followed in the footsteps of Google Chrome and disabled SSLv3, which is vulnerable in some cases to the so-called POODLE attack. (POODLE allows an attacker to compromise certain implementations of SSLv3 and steal supposedly cookies. Check here to see if you’re vulnerable.)

120214 firstlook firefox 7
A host of other security changes

Legacy proprietary crypto functions have apparently been “re-enabled” in Firefox 34, although the intent is to replace them by the next major release, and eight official security flaws have been repaired – including three rated as “critical.”

120214 firstlook firefox 8
WebIDE support

Web app developers get the advantage of official support for WebIDE, the browser-based integrated development environment that lets users create their own Firefox OS apps. Feel free to hit Shift+F8 to play around with it if you’re a developer, or to get somewhat confused, if you’re not.