New Android Firefox simplifies mobile browser sharing

The new version of Firefox for Android gets several innovative sharing tools, while social chat windows in desktop Firefox can now be "torn off."

The quickshare feature in Firefox 24 for Android. Mozilla

From features to speed, mobile browsing isn't quite what its desktop sibling is, but if Tuesday's Firefox 24 update is any indication, the gap between them is quickly shrinking.

The new, stable version of Firefox 24 for Android focuses on tying the mobile browser to several quick sharing tools.

Among the list of options in the Android menu button while using Firefox is now a "quickshare" button, based on your most commonly-used sharing tools. It lets you share with one tap and automatically picks up on your preferred sharing tools.

"Bump sharing" will also work in Firefox on Android phones and tablets that have near-field communication enabled. You'll be able to send an open tab from one Android device with Firefox running to another by touching the backs of the devices to each other.

Changes to the offline Reader mode make it easy to change the font from serif to san serif and back, switch to a "dark mode" with white text on a black background to save on battery manually or automatically, based on the amount of light in a room.

Firefox 24 for Android also gets full WebRTC support . It joins Chrome 29 for Android, which received full WebRTC support earlier this summer . WebRTC is the HTML5 API for plugin-free real-time communications protocol that is made up of PeerConnection (for browser-to-browser calls), getUserMedia (for Webcam and microphone access), and DataChannels (for browser-to-browser data transfer.) WebRTC lets the browser handle services like Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and torrent management without plugins.

Firefox 24 for Windows, Mac, and Linux sees a smaller spate of changes than its Android sibling. Mac users will be pleased to learn that the scrollbar style that was introduced in Mac OS X 10.7 is finally supported. Windows users, who are the majority of non-mobile device touch screen users, will be disappointed to learn that the W3C standard Touch Events API has been disabled pending the repair of a bug.

Touch Events are a different API from the ones used by Microsoft in Internet Explorer 10.

However, there's also a new option to close all tabs to the right of your current tab, and the Mozilla-developed Social API can now be used to "tear off" chat windows into new tabs by clicking and dragging.

Mozilla has release notes available for Firefox 24 for desktops, as well as notes for Firefox 24 for Android.

Correction, 12:15 p.m. PT: Notes that Chrome for Android also has full WebRTC support.

 

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