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28 August 2012, 17:48

Firefox 15 for desktop and Android released

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Zoom Firefox 15 on the Nexus 7
Mozilla has announced the latest version of the Firefox browser, version 15, with a grab bag of new features for all users on the desktop and a new tablet user interface in Firefox 15 for Android.

One big new feature of the desktop version of Firefox is reduced memory consumption when using add-ons; this is achieved by ensuring that memory in a page referenced by an add-on is released when the page is closed. Users will also find that Firefox 15 supports the latest version, 3, of Google's SPDY protocol. 3D presentations in WebGL will also be visually richer thanks to WebGL enhancements that enable compressed textures for faster, more compact, texture rendering.

Developers will find an all new debugger in Firefox 15 which is now integrated into the developer tools. The new debugger has eliminated much of the performance penalties of previous tools and also enables remote debugging of web sessions. A new layout design tool lets web developers quickly see what their pages will look like in mobile or desktop versions of Firefox. Other changes include support for the CSS word-break property, high-precision event timers and a new layout view in the Inspector.

HTML5 developers will find some changes too; there is support for the Opus audio codec, the <source> element now supports the media attribute and the <audio> and <video> elements support the played attribute, which is a time range representing what has already been played. One feature that had been in alpha and beta versions of Firefox 15 was JavaScript-based PDF rendering with PDF.js. This was disabled in a late beta and is currently expected to re-appear in Firefox 16.

Meanwhile the mobile Firefox developers have also been busy enhancing the hand-held browser for Android devices. The most noticeable improvement is the arrival of the new native UI for tablets, bringing with it faster startup. Users can now also request desktop versions of sites from the menu and are able to search within a page for text.

Switching to Firefox is easier too, with support for importing bookmarks and history from the "stock browser" using an option found in settings. The download manager has been made more useful with pause, resume, cancel and retry options. The word-break, timer, SPDY3 support and HTML5 enhancements of the desktop version have also made it into the mobile version.

Firefox 15 for the desktop is available to download for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X along with release notes. Firefox 15 for Android can be downloaded from the Google Play Store and also has release notes available.


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