Mozilla’s New Firefox Quantum: Everything You Need to Know

Mozilla recently released Firefox Quantum and it’s fast. Really fast.
Also called Firefox 57, Firefox Quantum is the final form of Mozilla’s overhaul project of the Firefox browser. It includes Quantum CSS rendering engine to covert HTML and CSS to pixels onscreen, which means it will be faster than ever before. In fact, it has double the speed compared to the version from nearly half a year ago, thanks to the multi-core CSS engine combined with the elimination of bugs and tab prioritization. Bugs have been known to weigh the browser down.

The company launched the new version in an attempt to reestablish its market share, after several years of decline. It’s their biggest update since the launch of Firefox 1.0 in 2004.

What’s New?

A flatter fox. One of the new elements in Firefox Quantum is the logo. It’s livelier, more colorful, and modern, like the new version of the browser itself. But as you should know, Mozilla has made various logo updates over the years, and these updates show subtle changes rather than dramatic overhauls.

The new logo is almost the same with a fox wrapped around a globe, but it’s flatter and more dynamic. It seems this new logo is marrying beautifully with the similarly flatter, more dynamic version of Firefox.

King of speed. The new Firefox browser uses a series of algorithms to make it faster than the previous versions. It boasts a new CSS layout engine. The CSS engine is called Stylo, which can cater to the hardware demands of today.

The engine is also written in the programming language Rust, which is the brainchild of Mozilla’s research group. The result is a substantial increase in speed. Other changes include active tab prioritization a switchover from legacy add-ons to those built using the WebAssembly API.

And yes, the results are noticeable.

In fact, it’s twice as fast as the previous version according to Speedometer 2.0, which measures the performance of a browser across top web apps. That’s a notable change—because in PCWorld’s test of the best browser of 2017, Firefox came in last.

But whether or not it’s really snappy than the old Firefox versions depends on the sites you’re visiting. It does seem faster in some quick testing, though. That puts it in league with Chrome or Opera. Mozilla even says the browser is faster than Chrome when surfing certain websites.

Square and glassy smooth. The browser also sports a new user interface; it’s Mozilla’s first major redesign since Firefox 4 in 2011.
The new user interface and design language of Firefox Quantum puts Chrome’s brand of minimalism to shame. In fact, Chrome looks dated.

Mozilla calls this Photon, a UI initiative with a goal is to unify and modernize anything that the company calls Firefox, while taking advantage of the speedy new engine. The firm dug deep into what people expect from their browsers. Now Quantum looks like a modern browser, with its glassy animations and square tabs. The settings are right where they should be as well. Firefox 57 also combines the address and search bars to reduce the clutter at the top of the window.

Tracking protection anytime, anywhere. With the US government reinforcing the existing Internet privacy laws, Firefox refuses to compromise on their user privacy and security. The new browser allows users to turn on tracking protection. This blocks tracking scripts not just in private browsing mode using the new Control Center.

Capture and save anything you see. There are some other nifty features included in Firefox Quantum. One of them is a built-in screenshot capturing tool. Often, the site you visit is not something you can easily save, but with the screenshot functionality, saving and storing the things you see on your browser is as easy as a click. With the feature, you won’t have to tap the Print Screen key or enter Command + Shift + 3 to capture the whole page.

Mozilla tried it in its Test Pilot program in 2016 under the name Page Shot.

There’s a Library button as well, which gives you access to your saved content, such as bookmarks.

Stories right in your “pocket”. Another change in Firefox Quantum is the integration of the popular app Pocket, which Mozilla acquired in February. This integration lets users save web content for later readings and viewings.

In addition, you’ll see three recommended stories from Pocket when you open a new tab. These stories are chosen from the millions of content users store into Pocket throughout the day. That means what you see represents what’s worth watching and reading on the web.

Below the stories, you’ll find a set of popular topics that lead to Pocket Explore. Here, you can look for popular content on any topic that interests you.

Challenge: Add-ons Not Working

The biggest issue with the new Firefox Quantum is the new add-ons system, the WebExtensions API. Because the browser switched from supporting XUL (XML User Interface Language) to only supporting WebExtensions API-designed extensions, many popular add-ons no longer work until their developers port them to the new API.
The add-ons that are no longer working may be listed under the legacy extensions screen. If you wish to see the list, go to about:addons, or click on the menu and then go to Add-ons. This will open a listing of all the working add-ons installed in your browser.

Should You Really Make the Switch?

It’s faster and sharper, but Firefox Quantum is still Firefox. That means it’s impossible to have the same level of integration with Google that you get from Chrome, although you can import your settings and bookmarks seamlessly.

But despite that, Firefox Quantum is still worth a look. While many add-ons won’t work properly, that’s not really a deal breaker. A few add-ons can be an acceptable loss, and those apps will most likely be revamped, so that they’ll function with the new Firefox browser. Give it time.

With that, it’s safe to say that Mozilla’s new Firefox Quantum is really worth a try.

Guest article written by: Paul is a tech blogger who’s passionate about travelling and cooking. In his free time, he takes part in big city marathons. He has a cat named Zeus.

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