Firefox 14 unleashed with focus on security

The latest version of the open-source browser promises to make Google searches from insecure Wi-Fi networks a safer pastime

Mozilla has released Firefox 14, the latest version of its desktop web browser, which brings new features such as safer web searches, new API support and full-screen compatibility on OS X 10.7 Lion.

The open-source browser update arrived for download on Tuesday, building on a beta put out at the beginning of June. A beta of the next iteration, Firefox 15, is already available for public testing and is scheduled for full release on 28 August.

The key change in Firefox 14 is a focus on making browsing more secure; for example, it uses secure Google searches by default to protect user data when a computer is connected to a shared Wi-Fi network. Mozilla said it will extend this feature to include other search engines, once these have implemented the same option.

"We automatically make your Google searches secure in Firefox to protect your data from potentially prying eyes, like network administrators when you use public or shared Wi-Fi networks," Mozilla said in a blog post.

"Google is currently the only search engine that allows Firefox to make your searches private, but we look forward to supporting additional search engines with this feature in the future," it added.

In addition, Firefox 14 now uses different symbols to verify a site's identity — that is, that a site is what it purports to be and is not bogus. A globe symbol represents an unsecured website. A padlock icon with 'HTTPS' shows sites that use SSL encryption. A green lock icon, which includes the name of the site owner, indicates an Extended Validation certificate, where the certificate authority has taken a close look at the provider.

The Firefox update brings extra tools for developers too: it fully supports the Pointer Lock API for the first time, to provide applications and games with better mouse control. The browser now provides full-screen mode for Mac OS X Lion 10.7, Mozilla noted for Apple developers.

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