Firefox 84 arrives: Apple silicon M1 Mac native support brings big speed boost, says Mozilla

Mozilla claims huge performance improvements in Firefox 84 for Apple's new silicon-based Macs.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Mozilla has released Firefox 84, the last update for 2020, which brings native support for Apple's new silicon chips. 

Mozilla says Firefox 84 brings "dramatic performance improvements" over the non-native build that shipped with Firefox 83 from November, a week after Apple released its first silicon M1 Macs. 

Mozilla's benchmarks using the SpeedoMeter 2.0 test suggest that Firefox now launches over 2.5 times faster and web apps are more responsive. 

SEE: Top 10 iPad tips (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Users with new M1 Macs need to fully exit and restart Firefox after upgrading to Firefox 84 to run the browser on the new architecture.

Just as Firefox support comes to the M1 – the first series of Apple silicon SoCs – Firefox 84 becomes the last version of the browser to support Adobe Flash. Both are a reminder of the influence Apple co-founder Steve Jobs has had and continues to exert on software and hardware nine years after his death. 

Jobs wrote off Flash in 2010 as successful Adobe software but one that was a 'closed' product "created during the PC era – for PCs and mice" and not suitable for the then-brand-new iPad, nor any of its prior iPhones. 

Instead, Jobs said the future of the web was HTML5, JavaScript and CSS. At the end of this year Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge and Apple Safari also drop support for Flash. 

Senior Apple execs recently reflected in an interview with Om Malik what the M1 would have meant to Jobs had been alive today. 

"Steve used to say that we make the whole widget," Greg Joswiak, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing told Malik

"We've been making the whole widget for all our products, from the iPhone, to the iPads, to the watch. This was the final element to making the whole widget on the Mac."  

SEE: Mac Mini (Late 2020) review: Apple's most affordable M1 Mac offers great value for money

With Firefox 84 WebRender, Mozilla's faster GPU-based 2D rendering engine, is rolling out to MacOS Big Sur, Windows devices with Intel Gen 6 GPUs, and Intel laptops running Windows 7 and 8. 

Mozilla promises it will ship an accelerated rendering pipeline for Linux/GNOME/X11 users for the first time.

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