Firefox update delivers new home page for Android

Mozilla's latest Firefox updates also debut Intel support for the Android version of the browser and better security with Java plug-ins on desktops.

The new home page on Firefox for Android. Mozilla

The latest Mozilla Firefox updates debut an overhauled home page for the Android browser and heightened security on the desktop one.

Firefox for Android 26 offers a new home page design that makes it easier to get at key browser features. When you open a new tab or tap on the location bar, the new page appears with a menu that you can swipe through to see your Top Sites, History, Bookmarks, and the Reading List of sites saved to read later.

The new version now offers Bing and Yahoo search as default search options, and the password manager supports script-generated passwords. One bug that Mozilla hasn't been able to fix yet breaks Flash in Firefox when running on Android 4.4 KitKat.

A Mozilla spokesperson attributed the problem to code changes in Android 4.4. The fix won't be easy, either. "Our plan moving forward in terms of future support is Shumway, an alternative solution to support media files. Code for this has begun to land in [Firefox] Nightly and we are working on getting it released in 2014," the spokesperson said.

Firefox for Android now supports Intel x86 chipsets, a move that follows Android beyond its ARM origins. Full release notes for Firefox for Android 26 can be read here.

Updates in Firefox 26 for Windows, Mac, and Linux focus on security. Plug-ins like Flash, Silverlight, and QuickTime have been locked down because of their ongoing security risks. All plug-ins, which are different from add-ons, are now set to "click to play" by default.

That means that when you load a site that wants to use one of the plug-ins, the default setting will be to ask you to click on the part of the Web page where the plug-in has been embedded to get it to run.

On Windows, people running the Mozilla Maintenance Service can get updates without necessarily having access to write permissions. This means that Firefox can still update to the latest version, even on restricted access computers such as work PCs.

Meanwhile, Linux users can now run H.264 video if the correct gstreamer plug-ins have been installed. The full release notes for Firefox 26 can be read here.

Update Dec. 11, at 6:10 p.m., with comment from Mozilla about the lack of Flash support in Android 4.4 KitKat.

 

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