Hands on: Firefox 11 improves syncing

The latest update to Mozilla's browser includes a few small useful tweaks, but no major changes.

By Preston Gralla, Computerworld |  Software, Firefox

The Android version of Firefox 11 benefits from the same improvements as the desktop version -- including the ability to sync add-ons, so those who want to keep their traditional computers and their Android devices in sync will be pleased. In addition, the Android version gains Flash support, although only for devices that run Android version 2.3 or earlier. It's unclear when browsers running on Android 3.0 and later will receive Flash support.

Mozilla says that Firefox has been sped up with version 11 due to support for a protocol called SPDY, which allows for faster page loading. In addition, SPDY uses the SSL security protocol, which means, according to Mozilla, that browsing is more secure as well.

Developers will find a number of additions. The new CSS Style Editor makes it easier for developers and designers to interactively design Web pages. It lets you make changes to CSS code and immediately see the changes take effect. That makes it easier and faster for designers and developers to go through multiple iterations and designs.

There is also a new feature called Tilt that allows developers to use a 3D tool when inspecting page elements. Those with WebGL-capable systems can use Tilt to see a copy of a page rendered in three dimensions.

The bottom line

Firefox 11 is only a minor, incremental upgrade compared to version 10. Existing Firefox users will want to upgrade (in Windows, select About Firefox from the Help menu; on a Mac, select About Firefox from the Firefox menu), especially if they use Firefox on multiple devices and want to keep add-ons in sync among them.

But apart from the add-on sync, there's really nothing in this new version of Firefox to get anyone to switch from a competing browser. If Mozilla wants to combat its slowly shrinking market share, it's going to have to come up with something significantly better than Firefox 11.

Preston Gralla is a contributing editor for Computerworld.com and the author of more than 35 books, including How the Internet Works (Que, 2006).

See more by Preston Gralla on Computerworld.com.

Originally published on Computerworld |  Click here to read the original story.
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