FireFox 57 Strikes Back with VR and AI
Mozilla Firefox is hyping about the triumphant comeback that is about to happen with the Mark 57 update. Mozilla CEO Chris Beard did everything right. He found a brutal name for an upgrade, drew up a mecha warrior to intimidate the competitors, and promised the hottest abbreviations: VR and AI.
But let’s have a closer look at what is under the hood. First thing you should know about Mozilla FireFox is that it’s not a corporation product, but rather an open source project for coders from across the world. It doesn’t mean there’s no leading engineer, it means that quite a crowd of people are involved. So, we can hope for a really amazing result.
Last fall, Head of Platform Engineering at Mozilla – David Bryant announced Project Quantum, the goal being the development of the conceptually new browser engine.
The Web has changed over the years and the static pages created ways to interact with one another, which can take too much of usage of resources from different systems. On the other hand, the computer systems have also evolved greatly with the introduction of GPUs, multi-core CPUs, and SSDs. So David promised a complete overhaul of the browser engine, of which the components are written in Rust – a systems programming language ‘that runs blazing fast’.
Now the Quantum engine includes Stylo for formatting operations in acceleration. Quantum Flow for squashing little slowdown bugs and Quantum Compositor for speeding up website display. Another feature promised for the faster page download is WebRender. This feature will employ a system graphics chip to draw webpages on the screen faster. It unfortunately will not appear in Mark 57 just yet.
As we can see, the Mozilla’s first priority is speed. Which is OK nowadays. The speed of downloading content, the speed of button clicking and the tabs operations are some of the things Chrome seems to have forgotten about. The browser benchmark Speedometer showed a considerable boost in performance as compared to the June 2016 version of Firefox: 38 percent on MacOS and 45 percent on Windows, claims Jeff Griffiths, Mozilla’s Firefox browser product leader.
It’s hip to be square
As for the interface, Mozilla is rolling out the new look called Photon. The tell-tale FireFox curvy tabs are gone. As the developers state, ‘It’s hip to be square’. The menus and structures have also been revised. For example, the History view in the Library button can now show Recently Closed Windows, Recently Closed Tabs, and Recent History. The Page action panel hides when switching tabs and its action items can be added to the location bar or removed from it. If you follow the link above, you’ll be able to monitor the developers’ blog in real time mode.
AI security guard
In the new overhauled FireFox the AI will be used to monitor the websites look. If something goes wrong, the AI alerts the system and the Mozilla’s team of programmers. So now AI is being taught to tell a properly rendered web page from a wrong one. So, we, the end-users will be able to use the AI only indirectly through the improved updates from the team. Supported by the AI debugging info, they’ll be able to roll out the patches faster than usual.
Extensions are going extinct
For years, extensions were FireFox hallmark. Many users installed the browser just to use them. Nowadays Mozilla is pulling the plug on those extensions and overhauls the API architecture. Now the browser runs on Web Extensions just like Chrome does. This feature will add to the performance boost as well but most users are to be bitterly disappointed. Most of the extensions were made by enthusiasts who have long forgotten their products or ditched them for newer ones.
Wladimir Palant, the author of the most favorite extension AdBlock Plus has already warned the community that not all the programmers would painlessly migrate to the new architecture. There will be losses and sad ones.
There’s still a question is it worth it? Since the disaster with the FireFox OS, the Mozilla browser has been the underdog of the browsers world. Now Google Chrome and other Chromoids like the Comodo Dragon Browser rule. They’re in desktops, mobiles and smart TVs: 54 percent of all users prefer the Google product while Safari gets only 14 percent and others are shared by small timers and IE or Edge. Out of all of them only Edge uses its own Bing search system by default.
And now Google is the indisputable king of the Web. It provides not only the search system but a massive back up of personal data from the Web history to profiles. The FireFox’s only chance is speed. It’s not a secret that Google Chrome can freeze any system if a user opens too many tabs. This is to not even say anything about heavy pages which can take minutes to download. If Mark 57 manages to break the spell, it will be the coup of the decade.
I’ve already installed the FireFox browser and am ready for the update to come. Come and join me!