Beta of Firefox 20 introduces parallel Private Browsing
The first beta release for Firefox 20 on the desktop introduces per-window Private Browsing, a new user interface for downloads and better handling of crashed plugins. The Android version also gets per-tab Private Browsing and has its system requirements lowered to a minimum of 384MB of RAM and QVGA resolution (320×240 pixels).
The Per-window privacy mode is a feature that has been requested by Firefox users for a while. Google's Chrome browser has had this behaviour since the introduction of its "Incognito mode" privacy features. In current versions of Firefox, the browser has to close all open tabs and windows before entering Private Browsing mode and only re-opens them once a user has finished using the private session. With the change in behaviour, users of Firefox can now keep their "normal" browsing window open while they open a concurrent private browsing window. The private browsing window does not have access to other cookies stored on the system and will discard its own cookies and browsing history when it is closed. On the Android version of the browser, Private Browsing mode will open individual privacy tabs as opposed to a new window, as this is obviously not possible on the mobile operating system.
The new download user interface in Firefox 20 beta's desktop version removes the stand-alone downloads window and replaces it with a drop-down menu that can be accessed from a button on the browser's navigation toolbar. The download history has been integrated with the user's browsing history – this means all history information can now be accessed from a central history window. Other improvements increase the performance of Firefox 20 beta and introduce the ability for users to close crashed plugin processes without having all of the browser lock up. The Mozilla developers have also added HTML5's getUserMedia DOM option that gives the browser the ability, with the user's permission, to capture local audio and video streams. More information on this feature can be found on Mozilla's Future Releases blog.
Firefox 20 beta for Android allows users to customise the shortcuts on the start page displayed by the browser and the reduced system requirements mean that it can be installed on a wider range of mobile devices, including those powered by an ARMv6 CPU with as little as 600MHz clock speed. The getUserMedia functions are also implemented in the mobile browser and Firefox is now able to hardware decode H.264, AAC and MP3 files on the Gingerbread (2.3) and Honeycomb (3.0) versions of Android.
A full list of new features in the beta of Firefox 20 for the desktop and Android is available from the Mozilla web site. The new version is available for desktop users on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux from the Firefox Beta channel. Firefox 20 Beta for Android can be downloaded from the Google Play store and can be run alongside the stable version of Firefox. As with all development versions of software, The H does not recommend running these versions in mission critical circumstances.