Firefox 27: Faster, more secure and more social

Firefox 27: Faster, more secure and more social

Summary: The new version adds support for the Firefox SocialAPI, improves TLS support and makes many other improvements.

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TOPICS: Security, Browser
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Mozilla has released Firefox version 27.

As detailed in the release notes, the major new feature is support for the Firefox SocialAPI. Mozilla describes the SocialAPI as "a new API to make it easier for web browsers to integrate with social media services. Once a social service provider is implemented for Firefox, it becomes possible for the browser to display in-chrome user controls and information related to that service."

Three SocialAPI plugins are available today: Facebook Messenger for FirefoxCliqz, and Mixi (Japan only). In the screen grab below of Facebook messenger for Firefox, you can see how the Facebook Messenger pane stays up and running while the main browser window is on another site.

Facebook.Messanger.Firefox.SocialAPI

Another take on SocialAPI is expressed in the release notes: "You can now run more than one service at a time with Firefox SocialAPI, allowing you to receive notifications, chat and more from multiple integrated services." There are plugins, web sites and apps that attempt to consolidate social networking systems for the client; now SocialAPI puts it into the browser.

The new version turns on TLS (Transport Layer Security, the successor to SSL) versions 1.1 and 1.2 by default. Like many browsers, Firefox has supported these standards for a while, but has not turned them on by default because of potential problems they might cause with web sites which don't support modern standards. By now, the level of support and the security benefit are such that it makes sense to turn the feature on.

Even viewing this setting is inconvenient and unobvious. There is no UI in the Settings dialog for TLS support levels. Users must go to about:config and look for the securty.tls.version.min and securty.tls.version.max values. The min value lists the oldest standard Firefox will support and max the newest one. 0 is SSL 3.0 (the last version before TLS), 1 is TLS 1.0, 2 is TLS 1.1, etc. The new values are min=0 and max=3; in Firefox 26 max=1.

Firefox 27 adds support for the SPDY 3.1 protocol. According to the documentation, SPDY "...adds a framing layer for multiplexing multiple, concurrent streams across a single TCP connection (or any reliable transport stream)." The standard is designed so as to require little or no change in web application development.

The new version also adds numerous developer features described in the release notes.

Finally, Firefox 27 also fixes 15 security vulnerabilities, five of them critical.

Topics: Security, Browser

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24 comments
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  • Can you say Hello Social API malware? You know it's coming

    And a raft of security bugs causing update after update after update. Bummer.
    Johnny Vegas
    • Party pooper!

      Yeah, big deal. We're talking social UI in the browser chrome! Isn't that worth a few million exploited computers?
      larry@...
      • Has it fixed the perennial mem leak?

        Let's get the basic done b4 moving onto social API.
        LBiege
        • Memory leak

          was taken care of last summer.
          wright_is
        • Looooooong gone

          FF is now lightest weight feature-full browser out there. It also uses the fewest CPU cycles so that, even though it may not be as silky smooth as IE or Chrome while it's running, the *rest* of your system still runs well. Chrome may be fast, but when it is up and running with several tabs open, even fast systems slow to a crawl. The difference between FF and Chrome in that respect is night and day.
          x I'm tc
          • Lightest weight?

            Admittedly I haven't used a scale, but this isn't my sense of them, at least on Windows. FF certainly takes the longest to load of the three.
            larry@...
          • I would agree

            It is the slowest to launch. I suspect that's because the browser actually has to render itself. That said, once it's up and running, it uses very little RAM and very few CPU cycles. That's what I meant by "lightest." YMMV.
            x I'm tc
          • I don't have that problem with Chrome.

            Personally I love chrome and I don't have issues with lots of chrome tabs and window instances.

            Possibly what you are seeing is that you are eating up memory on a 32 bit system and the system is swapping and so runs very slow. Or a 64 bit system with more limited memory.

            But as long as you are 64 bit and have plenty of memory I don't see that chrome tabs eat CPU cycles. Why would they?

            So I think it is more of a memory problem than a CPU cycle thing.
            DevGuy_z
          • Looooooong gone??? not really.

            Open a PORT list when you open FireFox and you'll simply AMAZED!!! at how many PORTS it uses. I use Kerio Fire Wall and can see all the PORTS open & the name of the program and more.
            It uses quite a bit of CPU when opened and it's hunger's not satisfied for a good minute or two, (depends what page you open). The only time it uses little CPU is when you're not doing anything, which is pointless.
            CPU eater. Open TASK MGR. to PERFORMANCE screen, and set side by side your FF browser. Now open a page and watch that green line JUMP. Open a couple browsers or Tabs and refresh them all.
            I'm on Win-XP and use IE-8 but since IE freezes up when 2 browsers are opened or Tabs open in one browser, It's useless to me.
            I have 5 different PC's running 5 different configurations of software. The above is consistent in all PC's.
            fm.usa
          • oops

            My point is, FireFox spreads out the load so it LOOKS like it's a small footprint.
            fm.usa
    • Don't think you know how security works

      Firefox ESR(extended support release) which is based on Firefox 24 has also been patched with many of the same patches as regular firefox 27. 1/3 Windows 7 patches and sometimes more on any given patch Tuesday also apply to Windows XP despite being almost a decade it predecessor.

      The point being, versions bumps and feature creep isn't really something to be afraid of. Especially considering Mozilla has one of the most agile security records. It literally took them less than 48 hours from report, investigation and then patch rollout to the last known Firefox zero day attack in the wild which was 2010 noble peace prize website hack.
      Aliephe
  • SocialAPI isn't new! It's been there since Firefox 17

    The aspect that is new:

    "You can now run more than one service at a time with Firefox SocialAPI"

    Incidentally the Facebook Messenger integration is INCREDIBLY buggy. It's infamous for not working more than it does.

    Which is a pity as when it does work it's very handy having Facebook Messenger displayed on every tab.
    bradavon
  • When are they releasing a modern version.

    So far IE has no competition, the modern version of chrome is atrociously bad at touch.
    Sam Wagner
    • I'm not sure

      But I think I read it was in preview versions for Firefox 28.
      lepoete73
    • March?

      I think...
      x I'm tc
    • Say what you want I like Chrome better than IE or FF

      Doesn't mean you will. I like its interface better and its overall performance.

      I don't think IE or FF are bad but I just like Chrome more. I don't have touch. If I had a touch screen laptop I just wouldn't use it for Chrome (and probably wouldn't use it that much any way.)
      DevGuy_z
  • Faster?

    Did ZDNet even do a cursory test? The Mac version is still the slowest and most RAM hungry browser available.
    Michael Linneer
    • Well, ok, it does 'feel' faster on Mavericks

      My previous comment was based of a few quick tests on my older iMac running 10.7 Lion. Some quick benchmarks showed no change really from v26 and the same video lag Firefox has always had. But I updated my MacBook Air running 10.9 Mavericks and there is some improvement. I browsed around for about 2 hours, watched some news videos, Peacekeeper, and BrowserMarks, and FF 27 performed exceptionally well, on a par with Safari 7. Battery use was a little high, down to 65% after 2 hours where Safari drops to roughly 75% browsing the same sites. I never saw FF go over 500Mb in Activity Monitor while loading 10 tabs just to see what it would do. No extensions, default theme, and the usual plugins... Flash (the new upodate), QT, and Flip2Mac. I've always prefered the FF UI to Safari... I may stick with v27 for a while, at least on the MBA.
      Michael Linneer
    • Stick with Safari

      Stick with Safari

      LMAO....I just couldn't keep a straight face.
      Raid6
    • Probably mean Windows

      On Windows, it is extremely light weight and peppy.
      x I'm tc