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Mozilla's Firefox web browser just got its biggest update in 13 years -- here's what's new

  • Mozilla released an upgraded version of its Firefox browser on Tuesday.
  • Called Quantum, the organisation says it’s twice as fast as the old version and uses 30% less memory than Google’s Chrome browser
  • Content recommendations from Pocket have also been fully integrated.

It’s a good day to be a Firefox diehard. On Tuesday, Mozilla, the non-profit behind the popular browser is launching Quantum, a totally reengineered version of Firefox.

It’s the culmination of six years of research and development and a year and a half of engineering work, according to Mozilla CMO Jascha Kaykas-Wolff. And, the company claims, it represents the biggest overhaul of Firefox since 2004.

The biggest change? It’s blazing fast, running twice as fast as the Firefox of just six months ago.

Mozilla’s engineers totally rebuilt the core engine, giving it brand new “guts,” and interacting with 7 million lines of code in the process. Mozilla claims that Quantum also uses 30% less memory than Google’s Chrome browser, and is meant for those who surf the net by opening a million different tabs and rapidly switching between all of them. So basically, everyone.

The user interface also got a total overhaul, and users will notice brand new themes, tab designs and menu items. The redesign is part of a larger Mozilla initiative called Photon, an effort by the company to unify and modernise the appearance of everything Firefox.

Three new stories in every tab

The name Quantum was originally the developers code name for all of the UI work, but as time progressed they realised that what they were working on was going to be a totally new product and thus needed a new name. Firefox is an open source project, and according to the company, 80 people around the globe contributed to the UI effort.

The last change users will notice is the integration of Pocket, a product Mozilla acquired in February that serves up recommended content within tab windows. With Quantum, every time a user opens a new tab they will see three Pocket recommended stories before they even start searching. The selected stories are chosen out of the millions of items users are saving to Pocket throughout the day, and becuase of this Mozilla says, “they do a great job of representing what’s worth reading and watching on the web.”

Just like with the original Firefox, Kaykas-Wolff says that users should feel good about using the new browser. Mozilla sees the internet as a public resource, and just like recycling helps the environment, using a browser developed by a non-profit helps the free internet.

“You should feel good about using Firefox because it contributes to Mozilla which contributes to a healthy internet,” said. Kaykas-Wolff.

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