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On the heels of yesterday's Firefox for Android update, Mozilla has released Firefox 17 for Windows, Mac, and Linux. The popular browser has seen heightened competition as of late from Google's Chrome browser and the other browsers available, such as Opera and Internet Explorer 10.
The latest version comes just a month after Firefox 16, which was released back in October. Mozilla has increased the frequency of updates, likely to match that of Chrome, and Firefox is now rolling out updates, bug fixes, and improvements every six weeks or so, a similar schedule to that of Chrome.
Version 17 of Firefox removes support for Mac OS X 10.5. This could be a bit of a problem for some Mac users as nearly 10 percent of Macs are still running the old operating system. They'll still be stuck with the old version of the browser, but this isn't too big of a deal because version 16 is a solid Firefox version.
Head on over to Firefox.com and pick up the latest version of the browser, which should be showing up online sometime today. If you're already a user of Firefox, you'll get the update automatically.
Firefox for Android allows it to run on older devices, makes it accessible to 250 million more devices
Today, Mozilla has released a new version of Firefox for Android. The updated version now includes support for devices running an ARMv6 processor, which Mozilla claims is found in roughly 250 million devices. For comparison, there are roughly 500 million existing Android devices, so it opens it up to a large new group of users.
Previous iterations of the Firefox browser required devices to be running Android 2.2 or later and an ARMv7 processor. Users who have clung to their older Android device can now make use of the popular third-party web browser. The new browser also comes with many improvements for the visually impaired.
The accessibility improvements are now available in the mobile browser and will help visually impaired users navigate the web. If you'd like to pick up Firefox for Android for your older device, it's now available on the Google Play Store.
Google: Flash is now 'fully sandboxed' in Chrome on Windows, Mac, Linux, and Chrome OS; everyone cheers
Three cheers for Chrome and the Chrome team. They have fully sandboxed Flash in Chrome for Windows, Linux, Mac, and Chrome OS, which should help make everyone's system safer and more stable. Flash has long been the cause of security flaws and browser crashes, so Google's sandboxing of Flash should stop at least the former of the two problems.
The latest Chrome release features a new version of flash, along with full Flash sandboxing. Google says that the new Flash sandboxing is as strong as Chrome's native sandbox, and "much more robust than anything else available." Between the two changes, Flash should remain safe for a few more weeks before someone finds a new compromise.
This will be especially good for Mac users as Flash has been a major problem for the platform as of late. They suffered the Flashback malware, and several other security breaches. Flash makes a great exploit tool because of its wide use and cross-platform support. It's doubtful anyone will stop trying to exploit it for a long time to come, so this step by Google is much appreciated.
Google is apparently quite proud of their six week release schedule for Chrome. They've taken to their blog to post about how every six weeks, Chrome gets faster. They liken the release schedule and speed increase to " a mechanic stopping by every six weeks to give your car a new engine."
As you can see in the chart above, Chrome, according to Google, has gotten 26.3 percent faster since version 15. The latest version, 24, is currently available in the Beta channel meaning it will be a little bit before you get it on your normal desktop. They measured performance using their Octane benchmark, so the numbers could be a bit biased.
They do bring up the interesting point of most users not realizing their browser is being upgraded. To the end user, they see the same window, day after day, even though it's updating the back-end to make the browser run quicker and feel snappier. Google strives for speed, so you can be assured that they will continue to tweak Chrome to get the best performance.
Opera's latest iteration of their browser is now available, which includes improved support for both Windows and OS X, as well as enhanced support for touch-enabled Windows 8-based devices. Apple users aren't left out in the dark, either.
Users running Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion get some new features, too, with alerts from Opera in the new Notifications Center and improved support for the Retina displays on the latest MacBooks and iMacs. The new Opera 12.10 also includes a button added to the address bar that uses Mountain Lion's integrated social sharing functionality. There are also some other great improvements:
- Support for the SPDY protocol to improve and secure connections. Gmail and Twitter have already started using SPDY to supplement HTTP.
- The WebSocket API is supported and turned on by default in Opera 12.10. Opera now also supports ICC color profiles and color management.
- Support for Flexbox and and @supports to give website developers more control of how their website appear in the end users' browsers.
Last year, Google released a plug-in for the wildly popular Google Chrome. Like all things Google, this plug-in started out as a beta. The plug-in was a utility that would allow users to remotely access other PCs through Chrome. Today, Google has upgraded this plug-in from beta status with additional features.
To move the plug-in out of beta, Google added some extra features, some of which are really sweet. For instance, you can now have a real time audio feed from Windows, which should allow you to stream your MP3 collection through the internet to wherever you may remote desktoping in from.
Google is really trying to sell the plug-in as part of the Chromebook experience. You can take your highly "portable and easy-to use Chromebook with you on the go" and still remote into your PC or Mac at home to listen to music, do work that isn't possible on a Chromebook, or to just check on things.
Google says that they are still working on even more features to make Chrome Remote Desktop even more powerful. You can grab the plug-in from the Chrome Web Store.
Mozilla have taken to their Security Blog to update users on a security vulnerability they've found in their latest version of Firefox, version 16. The company have stated that there is an update arriving on October 11 on Firefox for Windows, Mac and Linux.
This update should fix the problems with the security hole, which Mozilla have stated:
Mozilla is aware of a security vulnerability in the current release version of Firefox (version 16). We are actively working on a fix and plan to ship updates tomorrow. Firefox version 15 is unaffected.
The impact of the hole itself:
The vulnerability could allow a malicious site to potentially determine which websites users have visited and have access to the URL or URL parameters. At this time we have no indication that this vulnerability is currently being exploited in the wild.
For the meantime, Mozilla have cleared Firefox 16 from its current installer page.
In a continuing effort to make Google Chrome more secure, Google enters the browser into hacking competitions. One of the hacking competitions stopped requiring participants to fully disclose how an exploit was performed, so Google decided to start hosting their own. Known as Pwnium competition, Google hands out awards from $20,000 to $60,000 depending on the exploit.
In this case, a hacker managed to win $60,000, the highest award amount, for exploiting a security hole in Chrome on Tuesday. "We're happy to confirm that we received a valid exploit from returning pwner Pinkie Pie," Google announced in a Chromium blog. "This pwn relies on a WebKit Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) compromise to exploit the renderer process and a second bug in the IPC layer to escape the Chrome sandbox. Since this exploit depends entirely on bugs within Chrome to achieve code execution, it qualifies for our highest award level as a 'full Chrome exploit,' a $60,000 prize and free Chromebook."
Of course, Google's team immediately started patching the exploit as soon as it was discovered and had a patch pushed out in just 10 hours. The hacker who performed this exploit also picked up $60,000 in the first competition that was held earlier this year. If Pinkie Pie can keep this up, he could support himself nicely with this income.
With Windows 8 knocking at our door, Mozilla have unleashed a preview of Firefox for Windows 8, as you can see from the photo below, it is not looking too bad at all.
This version is from the latest nightly build of Firefox for Windows 8, and is available for download right now if you'd like to try it out. This preview of Firefox for Windows 8 includes "a new Metro style Firefox Start page, support for Firefox Sync, Metro touch and swipe gestures, integration with Windows 8 'charms', and a simple but powerful Australis interface that is streamlined, modern, and beautiful."
Mozilla has touted this nightly version to be part of their "Elm" development branch, and will be auto-updated as their development of the browser goes on. We should see the usual improvements to the browser as time passes, but for now the preview is all we have.
Google's Chrome browser is popular, but just how popular are new versions? Well, according to Chitika Insights, Chrome 22 enjoyed usage of 22% within 24 hours of its release.
To compare this to Chrome 21, which enjoyed 25% on its release. But, more users have been shifting over to Chrome 22, where within its first week since launch hit an 85% adoption rate. Chrome 21 took ten days to reach the same milestone.
It seems that more and more people are keeping up with the bleeding edge of Google's web browser, partly because it has become much easier to keep up to date, and not wiping your settings or messing around with bookmarks again makes it easier for the mainstream user to transition, without worrying about losing a bunch of important data.