Mozilla today launched Firefox 56 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. The new version includes a screenshot feature, the ability to send tabs between desktop and mobile, a form autofill option, and the end of support of Flash on Android.
Firefox 56 for the desktop is available for download now on Firefox.com, and all existing users should be able to upgrade to it automatically. As always, the Android version is trickling out slowly on Google Play.
Mozilla doesn’t break out the exact numbers for Firefox, though the company does say “half a billion people around the world” use the browser. In other words, it’s a major platform that web developers target — even in a world increasingly dominated by mobile apps.
Firefox 56 allows you to take, save, and share screenshots without leaving the browser. Called Firefox Screenshots, the feature originally started as Page Shot in Test Pilot — a program that allows users to test drive potential new features for Firefox. After Page Shot became the most downloaded experiment in Test Pilot, Mozilla has now brought it over to all Firefox users.
Firefox Screenshots lets you capture a screen within your Firefox browser, click and drag to grab the content you want, or just hover over the area you want to grab and let Screenshots automatically outline the area you want. You can then choose the screenshots you want to save and easily access them through a toolbar in Firefox. Screenshots are automatically stored in the cloud for two weeks, but you can change the expiration date or delete them anytime. You can also easily share your screenshots as a link with anyone, no matter what device they’re on or browser they use.
Next up, Send Tabs means you no longer have to email or message yourself links. The feature lets you instantly send any web page to and from your desktop, mobile browser, or any mobile app.
The best part is that your data is encrypted end-to-end. So regardless of what you’re sending, nobody else can see it, not even Mozilla.
The last major highlight is form autofill. Mozilla is only testing the feature in the U.S. and on desktop devices, but the addition does make it easier to fill out most address forms.
As you might expect, Firefox lets you select from suggestions in the autocomplete dropdown on a form. When you fill in a form on a compatible website, Firefox automatically saves the field data to “Saved Addresses” under Options (Preferences) so it can be reused.
Here’s the full Firefox 56 changelog:
- Launched Firefox Screenshots, a feature that lets users take, save, and share screenshots without leaving the browser
- Added support for address form autofill (en-US only)
- Updated Preferences: Added search tool so users can find a specific setting quickly, reorganized preferences so users can more easily scan settings, rewrote descriptions so users can better understand choices and how they affect browsing, revised data collection choices so they align with updated Privacy Notice and data collection strategy
- Media opened in a background tab will not play until the tab is selected
- Improved Send Tabs feature of Sync for iOS and Android, and Send Tabs can be discovered even by users without a Firefox Account
- Replaced character encoding converters with a new Encoding Standard-compliant implementation written in Rust
- Added hardware acceleration for AES-GCM
- Updated the Safe Browsing protocol to version 4
- Reduced update download file size by approximately 20 percent
- Improved security for verifying update downloads
- Added Layout Panel to CSS Grid DevTools
If you’re a web developer, more details are available for you here: Firefox 56 for developers.
Firefox for Android didn’t get any major new features in this release, but it does lose a big one: Flash support. As part of Adobe’s plan to kill Flash by 2020, Mozilla already turned on click-to-play Flash by default in Firefox 55 on desktop. Firefox 56 for Android is taking the next step by dropping Flash completely.
Firefox 45 was the last version to support Android Honeycomb (versions 3.0 through 3.2.6), and Firefox 47 was the last version to support Android Gingerbread (versions 2.3 through 2.3.7). Firefox 55 was the last version to support Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.
The timing makes plenty of sense, because Adobe Flash was never officially supported after Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Firefox 56 thus drops support for both.
Here’s the full Firefox 56 for Android changelog:
- Improved support for WebExtensions on Android
- Improved power consumption and performance for WebRTC with the use of hardware encoders
- Added Zapoteco (zam) and Belarusian (be) locales
- Ended support for Flash
- Ended support for devices running Android 4.0
Mozilla releases new Firefox versions every six to eight weeks, and Firefox 57 is currently slated for mid November.