In the spirit of the holiday season, Mozilla gave its loyal fans an early Christmas present last Wednesday. And The gift came in the form of their newest Firefox 4 beta version, featuring an updated interface that’s sleeker and easier to use together with a new 3-D graphics support and a upgraded add-on manager.
According to Firefox Product Manager Mike Beltxner, the new 3-D enhancements are based on WebGL — an open standard for accelerated 3-D graphics rendering on the web that eliminates the need for users to install special plug-ins. “Firefox 4 beta now supports WebGL for most modern built-in graphics cards, making it easier for developers to create interactive 3-D games, vivid graphics, and new visual experiences for the web without the use of third-party plug-ins,” Beltzner wrote in a blog.
Firefox Principal Engineer Vlad Vukicevic also showed his christmas spirit by posting more explanatory blogs. ” Applications that formerly would have been possible only on the desktop or with plug-ins become possible in any modern browser that supports WebGL. 3-D games, interactive product displays, scientific and medical visualization, shared virtual environments, and 3-D content creation all become possible on the web,” he wrote in a blog.
Vukicevic further explained:
“WebGL is based on OpenGL ES 2.0 — the same 3D API used for Android and iOS development, . By including WebGL — together with Mozilla’s work on HTML5 video and audio support — Firefox 4 beta now supports “a full set of web technologies” for building rich and compelling applications on the web.”
“WebGL focuses on OpenGL ES 2.0 feature compatibility to ensure content compatibility with mobile devices. However, ES 2.0 is behind the latest advances on the desktop today, [and] in the future various desktop features may become available in WebGL in the form of extensions.”
Aside from the 3D enhancement feature, the Firefox 4 beta has an auto add-on update ability, thus “eliminating the hassle of [manually] updating,” as Firefox team member Jennifer Boriss wrote in a blog.
FireFox 4 has also altered its interface with its new tab location. The website explains that “tabs are given top visual priority for more efficient and intuitive browsing”. The beta version also sports a FireFox button which translates as “all menu items are in a single button for easy access and reduced clutter”. And of course the apps tab which Firefox elaborates as “Take sites you always keep open off your tab bar and give them a permanent home in your browser”.
According to Yahoo news, other changes or upgrades includes a streamlined Firefox Sync setup for acquiring the same address-bar history, bookmarks, open tabs, and passwords across PCs and laptops as well as smartphones running Android or Maemo.