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11 November 2011, 20:27

Firefox 9 Beta for desktop and Android now available

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Mozilla has announced the availability of the beta channel version of Firefox 9 for the desktop and Android for download and testing. The beta channel release for desktop brings new features and enhancements for the end user and adds new developer features.

Most notable is the Type Inference (TI) engine in Firefox's TraceMonkey JavaScript engine. This allows the engine to generate type information about scripts it is running, analysing the code and then reviewing the dynamic types as the scripts executes. The type information is then used during JIT compilation to generate more efficient code. As JavaScript is a dynamically typed language, the JIT compiler, not knowing the type of data, has had to generate slower code to allow for all possibilities. Type inference can determine, for example if only integers are needed in a loop and then generate machine code which uses only integers; this results 20 to 30 per cent faster JavaScript performance.

Other new features include Mac OS X Lion support which sees visual improvements as Firefox matches the the Mac OS X application toolbar and style; it supports two-finger swipe navigation gestures and is said to be easier to use on multiple monitors. Support for detecting Do Not Track in JavaScript has been added to allow web sites which cannot read the Do Not Track header to detect that the user wants to opt out of behavioural tracking. The new version is available for testing from the "Future of Firefox" download page on the Mozilla site.

Zoom The beta version makes better use of the larger screen
In the new Firefox 9 Beta for Android, a new tablet browsing experience gives the browser a new look that makes better use of the larger screen. There are now noticeable differences between the Android phone and tablet versions. On larger tablet screens, it is possible to use the full screen to browse: tab optimisation allows the user to easily switch between tabs while viewing the site but they can also swipe left to hide tabs for a full-screen view. A new action bar with quick access buttons allows the user to rapidly open the Firefox preferences, add-ons and downloads, navigate backwards and forwards, and bookmark pages.

Camera support has also been enabled so that HTML5 developers can use it as an input device. The HTML5 Form Validation API automatically validates form fields with numbers, email addresses and URLs without developers needing to write their own code. The Firefox 9 Beta for Android is available to download from the Android Market.


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