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IonMonkey delivers a faster Firefox

Search suggestions and better malware protections hit Firefox on Android, while the desktop browser gets a faster JavaScript engine and some under-the-hood tweaks.

Firefox JavaScript performance on Mozilla's own Kraken benchmark.

A new version of Firefox released today puts some extra speed into online games and Web apps powered by JavaScript, thanks to a new compiler called IonMonkey.

Mozilla stated in a blog post announcing the update to Firefox 18 (download for Windows | Mac | Linux) that the new engine makes JavaScript-powered Web sites run up to 25 percent faster than before.

Firefox will now look better on Macs thanks to new Retina support, and all versions of the browser work with W3C touch screen events in addition to MozTouch events.

One security change to the browser lets you disable insecure content at will on HTTPS-secured Web sites, but you can do this only via about:config. The browser now includes built-in PDF reading and early support for WebRTC, which lays the groundwork for giving Firefox the ability to perform voice calls, power video chats, and run P2P apps without plug-ins.

Firefox for Android (download) now offers search suggestions as you type in the location bar to speed up the search process. Mozilla has taken some steps to protect your privacy, though, so the first time you type into the location bar to search, the browser will ask you to opt-in to search suggestions.

Firefox JavaScript performance on Google's V8 benchmark. Mozilla

The company noted in its blog post announcing the updates that the searches are also conducted over a secure connection.

Firefox for Android will now warn you when you visit Web sites that may be used for phishing or malware distribution. This is a common feature on desktop browsers and is a feature that mobile browsers are likely to get as they become more popular.