Firefox released a study of the most popular extensions downloaded at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, finding that Zoom Scheduler, To Google Translate and tab organizer Tree Style Tab topped the list.
In an effort to see the differences in extension download trends, Firefox researchers compared average monthly installs from March 2020 to May 2020 and the average monthly installs for the three months prior, between December 2019 and February 2020. They only looked at extensions in Firefox that had at least 10,000 users.
There was a 21% overall increase in extension installs during the earliest months of the pandemic.
Millions of people were forced to use Zoom for school and work, leading to a 1,522% increase in installs of the Zoom Scheduler extension, which integrates Google Calendar with the Zoom app.
Next on the list was Dark Background and Light Text, which saw a 351% jump in installs. With people spending more time in front of screens, Firefox explained that more people wanted ways to adjust their backgrounds.
Tree Style Tab was next as people dealt with dozens more tabs for work, school and a never-ending stream of news. Downloads for the extension grew 126%.
To Google Translate saw massive interest worldwide, even after dominating extension lists before the pandemic.
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"This translation tool was already very popular when the lockdown started, so it's curious its install rate still climbed a whopping 126%, going from 222,000 installs/month to more than 504,000. To Google Translate provides easy right-click mouse access to the Google Translate service, eliminating the nuisance of copying text and navigating away from the page you're on just to translate," Firefox experts explained.
"We can only speculate why Firefox users wanted translation extensions when the pandemic started (To Google Translate wasn't an aberration; all of the top translation extensions had install increases), but it's worth wondering if a big factor wasn't a common desire to get broader perspectives, news and information about the emerging virus. Perhaps Firefox users who sought out international news coverage would explain the increased appetite for translation extensions?"
Firefox noted that To Google Translate saw a 164% increase in installs in China, 134% increase in the US, 101% in France, 76% in Russia and 75% in Germany.
Firefox also found that privacy extensions were wildly popular among users. Users flocked to the Facebook Container, created by Mozilla, and installs of the extension grew 211% as people sought to limit how much Facebook tracked them. Privacy Badger saw an 80% jump in installs globally. It saw particularly large jumps in Italy and Brazil, which both had more than 100% bumps in installs.
Cookie AutoDelete saw a 386% increase in monthly installs, improving from 42,000 monthly installs before the lockdown to more than 206,000 installs per month in 2020. Any unused cookies are deleted when you close a tab with the extension.
Gaming also exploded at the start of the pandemic, with popular Twitch extension BetterTTV seeing a 46% increase in installs. Germany specifically saw a 76% bump in installs.
"A lot of people became 'watch party' animals during the lockdown. If you haven't tried social streaming, it's a fun way to enjoy synced videos while chatting with friends online. Watch2gether extension became a popular choice for social stream parties (+82%). You don't need the extension to use the web-based Watch2gether platform. Still, the extension provides a few added perks when used in conjunction with the web service, such as easy browser access to your watch rooms and the ability to stream videos that aren't directly supported by the Watch2gether website (e.g. the video source doesn't offer an embeddable version)," Firefox researchers explained.
"A 45% install increase means we started listening to a lot more music on YouTube when the lockdown hit. YouTube Non-Stop solves the problem of that annoying "Video paused. Continue watching?" prompt by automatically clicking it in the background, so your groove never comes to a grinding halt."