The latest edition of Firefox -- version 3.5 -- is close to completion. Yesterday, the final beta release hit Mozilla's developer site, and marks the sixth development milestone for the new browser. As will come as absolutely no surprise to even the most mind-numblingly stupid of you, we've snagged the new version and had a poke around it.
Firefox is the darling My Little Pony of Web browsers, and Mozilla has wasted little time donning the veterinary gloves to give Mrs Pony a hefty injection from the feature syringe. Following Chrome and Internet Explorer, Firefox now has a private browsing mode. This mode won't save your browsing, search or download histories, and won't store cookies or temporary Internet files.
One feature sure to give privacy advocates a delicious worrycake is geolocation. Firefox 3.5 can tell a Web site where you're accessing the Internet from, by using integrated GPS, 3G or your computer's IP address. Sites can then offer more relevant information to you, such as nearby restaurants or the closest railway station.
"But how does this all benefit me?" you ask. We'll break things down piece by piece very quickly.
Is it really faster than Firefox 3.0.10?
Why is private browsing important?
That depends. If you prefer to watch porn in front of an open window, or happily manage your bank accounts on public computers with tourists passing by, it probably isn't important to you. But privacy and security should be important to you, and it is to most people.
Does it work?
It does. We ran a quick search for 'farm sex videos', and lo and behold, our IT department won't ever know. Not if they look at this machine for evidence, anyway.
I'm a nerd: does it pass the Acid3 Web standards compliance test?
No. It scores 93/100, which is good -- and better than version 3.0.10's 71/100 -- but it's not quite a pass.
What else should I know?
There's no such thing as Santa, reading tabloids will almost certainly make you stupid, and the full Firefox 3.5 release should follow within the next few months.
If you want to try out the new beta for yourself, hit up Mozilla's download page.