Mozilla improves private browsing, releases FirefoxOS Simulator 1.0
The Mozilla developers have introduced a much requested implementation of private browsing to the nightlies editions of Firefox, and have released version 1.0 of the FirefoxOS Simulator, which will enable Firefox users to get developing web applications for the forthcoming mobile operating system.
Private browsing in Firefox currently demands that the user completely exit the browser through the "Start Private Browsing" menu item and have the browser restarted in private mode; this is inconvenient to say the least. Over the past 19 months, the Mozilla developers have been working on rewriting the code of private browsing so that it can support something better and the first experimental builds have landed in the Firefox Nightly channel. The new private browsing mode will allow the user to open a new private window in the same way they currently open a normal browser window. The developers have also added the ability to right-click on a link and select "Open Link in a New Private Window" to start a new private session.
If the functionality sounds familiar, that's because it is; Chrome and Chromium have had the ability to open an "Incognito Window" and open a link in an "Incognito Window" since 2008. For Firefox, the process has been much more complex though as it already had a Private Mode but to make it work in a similar fashion required the complete rewrite of existing private browsing code.
The feature still has much testing ahead of it: the Nightly channel is currently developing Firefox 20. This will pass through the Aurora channel (6 Jan 2013), Beta channel (19 February 2013) and finally to release by 2 April 2013, if all goes to plan. Be aware that the Nightly channel is untested and is the home to all the latest changes and development work from the browser developers, so if a user wants to use it, it is at their own risk. The Nightly versions are available to download from a dedicated Mozilla page.
The Firefox OS Simulator, released to the public only three weeks ago, has had a version 1.0 release. The extension allows users to work and develop web apps for the forthcoming Firefox OS. A simulator manager lets a user plug the apps they are developing into a simulation of how Firefox OS currently works and use Firefox's web development tools to help debug the application.
The H recently had hands-on time with the Firefox Simulator at the Mozilla London offices and put together a web application; the simulator is effective and gives a good preview of where Mozilla is going with the fledgling mobile operating system, though we were working with a custom version of the simulator which had some specialised bug fixes. Mozilla have now announced version 1.0 of the simulator; it still labels it as a preview because, although the simulator functionality works, Firefox OS itself is still in constant development. A video introduces how to install and use the simulator.
The simulator can be downloaded from the Mozilla Add-Ons pages.