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22 October 2012, 17:04

Firefox beta introduces Social API with Facebook Messenger

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Zoom The interface for the new Social API takes the form of a sidebar
Source: Mozilla

Mozilla is introducing a new Social API in the latest beta version of Firefox, which provides the browser with the ability to integrate with social media sites. When enabled, the new social functions are displayed in a permanent sidebar alongside the usual page content. According to Firefox Engineering Director Jonathan Nightingale, the thinking behind the implementation of the feature was to "stop treating social like just another tab."

Even though the new API does not appear like a tab in the interface, it does essentially use the same technologies under the hood. In a post on the Mozilla Privacy Blog, Tom Lowenthal explains that the Social API works by loading pages over secure connections as if they had been loaded in another browser tab. This means they use the same cookie mechanisms as the rest of Firefox and use the same privacy settings. In essence, the sidebar presents another opened tab and all of its applications are running and sending data to the respective web services in the background. This provides features such as notifications, status updates and chat messages that persist as long as the sidebar is active.

The introduction of the Social API in Firefox sees Mozilla cooperate with Facebook as the first provider for the new API. While Mozilla designed the user interface, the Messenger Team at Facebook built their server-side implementation alongside the Firefox developers. Nightingale says the feature is ready to be tested and users who are running the latest beta version of Firefox 17 can visit Facebook and will be offered the Firefox integration with a message on the site.

Firefox Beta builds are available for download from Mozilla's servers. The latest stable version of the browser is Firefox 16.


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