YouTube’s live TV service now streams in Firefox

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YouTube TV debuted in a limited number of markets and could only be accessed through Chrome. The video-sharing platform is making it easier and easier to access, though: after launching it in additional locations and rolling it out to Apple TV, YouTu…
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New Firefox Extension Builds a Wall Around Facebook

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Mozilla has announced Facebook Container, a Firefox browser extension that is designed to segregate users’ activity on Facebook from their other Web activity, limiting Facebook’s ability to track them and gather personal data. Mozilla recently has engaged in an aggressive strategy to counter Facebook data management policies that many see as intrusive. The extension is the culmination of more than two years of research into developing a more private browsing experience, Mozilla said.
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Firefox 60 Beta for Android includes faster Quantum CSS engine [APK Download]

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The release of Firefox 57 ‘Quantum’ last year included several major changes to the browser’s structure, including a new CSS engine known as Quantum CSS (formerly called ‘Stylo’). Simply put, Quantum CSS is the browser component that figures out what styles should be applied to what elements. Because modern sites often use thousands of lines of CSS with many overriding styles, the feature was designed to take advantage of multiple CPU cores, giving Firefox 57 a performance boost over previous versions.

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Firefox 59 adds home button assist functionality, HLS playback, and more [APK Download]

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The last overhaul of Firefox was just a few months ago, with the release of Firefox 57 ‘Quantum.’ Mozilla today released version 59 of the beloved web browser, across all platforms. While the desktop version speeds up page load times, improves the built-in screenshot tool, and tweaks the Top Sites page, the mobile changelog isn’t quite as exciting.

Starting with v59, Firefox for Android is now an Assist App. This means you can start a web search by holding down the home button on your device, if you set Firefox as your default assistant.

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Firefox can block pesky site notification requests

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Website push notifications can be helpful. The way you're asked to enable those notifications? Not so much — the constant requests can drive you up the wall when you're just trying to check the latest news. Mozilla is coming to your rescue. Its…
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Mozilla launches new enterprise-friendly version of Firefox Quantum

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Mozilla today announced the beta release of Firefox Quantum for Enterprise, which lands on Wednesday. This is the latest and greatest version of the open source browser, but with several tweaks geared for business users. The enterprise version of Firefox Quantum isn’t vastly dissimilar to the standard browser aimed at home users. What distinguishes this is the purported ease with which it can be configured and deployed across a company’s IT infrastructure. Firefox Quantum for Enterprise comes with administrative controls baked-in, and allow administrators to deploy pre-configured versions of the browser. So, an administrator can ensure Firefox has certain features…

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Mozilla working on in-page popup blocker for Firefox

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The days of native popups in browsers are long gone, but sites still frequently use in-page alerts like the one above. They are completely useless most of the time, and usually violate the Better Ads Standards (potentially causing the site to lose revenue from Chrome users). While Firefox isn’t outright blocking ads on some sites like Chrome is, the browser’s developers are working on a blocker for these popups.

The feature is still in the planning stages, but Mozilla is asking users for any examples of sites with annoying pop-ups.

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MacUpdate served up Mac cryptominer to unsuspecting users in Firefox, OnyX, and Deeper downloads on Feb. 1

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Download aggregator MacUpdate briefly linked to three malicious applications masquerading as legitimate downloads for Firefox, OnyX, and Deeper, that not only install the apps, but also deposit a cryptocurrency miner on downloader’s systems.
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ProBeat: Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox are bringing back the browser wars


This was a big week in browser news: Google launched Chrome 64 and Mozilla released Firefox 58 in the span of just over a day. But the timing isn’t what’s interesting (both browsers get new versions every six weeks or so) — except for the fact it coincided with Mosaic’s 25-year anniversary — it’s the significant additions and improvements that point to a bigger trend. The browsers wars are heating up again.

I pay close attention to browser updates. It’s a bit of an obsession of mine, but I do justify it, to anyone who will listen, by saying that browsers don’t get enough coverage relative to how much time we spend in them.

2018 will be about ads and performance

2018 is already looking like it will be much more eventful than the past few years. This is largely thanks to Google — unlike Microsoft, the company is not taking its lead in the browser market for granted. Google is doubling down on the user experience by focusing on ads and performance, an opportunity I’ve argued its competitors have completely missed.

Chrome got a stronger pop-up blocker this month, but that’s nothing compared to what has already been announced for 2018. Google’s browser will soon no longer autoplay content with sound, take on third-party software injections, and crack down on unwanted redirects. Oh, and a built-in ad blocker is coming next month.

And that’s just what Google has talked about publicly. There’s undoubtedly plenty in the pipeline that’s slated for release this year.

Meanwhile, Mozilla has released a major revamp of Firefox, dubbed Firefox Quantum. That was version 57, we’re already on 58, and there’s a lot more where that came from. The speed improvements are massive, and coupled with Tracking Protection, they blow Chrome out of the water.

Mozilla is finally back in business. I’m not at all saying Firefox will, or even can, unseat Chrome, but it’s finally worth taking into account again.

Apple and Microsoft are still big players in the browser space, but they continue to move very slowly. Nevertheless, Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention push in Safari is worth … tracking, and Microsoft’s Continue on PC efforts show plenty of promise.

Mobile and beyond

I could be completely wrong that 2018 will be a pivotal year in the browser wars, and there’s nothing that gives me more pause than the state of mobile browsers. Because of the Android-iOS duopoly, there simply isn’t anywhere near as much innovation on phones and tablets as there could be. Add to that Apple’s requirement that all iOS browsers use WebKit/WKWebView and the general domination of Blink/Chromium on Android, and you’re left with a boring browser battle.

Former president of Microsoft’s Windows Division Steven Sinofsky put it best:

Yes, it’s great that Chrome’s aforementioned stronger pop-up blocker arrived not just on Windows, Mac, and Linux this week, but on Android as well. (The iOS version is often behind, so we’ll see where it lands in a few months.)

And yes, Mozilla should receive buckets of praise for its mobile endeavors given it’s the only one without an operating system of any kind. Firefox Focus is a brilliant offering on Android and iOS, to the point where I wonder if Firefox for Android and Firefox for iOS are worth the separate efforts.

But everything else I mentioned above is largely about the PC. And while that’s great for people like me who spend hours at a desktop and laptop all day, it’s simply no longer where the biggest impact lies.

Users want powerful extensions on mobile, for a start. Mozilla beat Google to the punch here, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Users also want better communication between their computers and phones. Apple and Microsoft have a distinct advantage here, but neither are really blowing the rest out of the water.

And of course, users could always use significant speed improvements on mobile, where loading times can be particularly abysmal and where there are many more factors that can make an impact. Hopefully we don’t need to wait for 5G to move the needle.

If the browser wars keep heating up this year, they’ll hopefully trickle down to mobile soon enough. Extensions, syncing, and speed are all areas that deserve attention.

This browser geek can’t wait.

ProBeat is a column in which Emil rants about whatever crosses him that week.

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