Firefox 18 joins Safari, Chrome with support for retina Macs

Mozilla Firefox logoRetina MacBook Pro users who like lots of browser options have reason to rejoice with Tuesday's official release of Firefox 18. Those who own a 13-inch or 15-inch version of Apple's newest MacBook Pros will be able to view images, videos, and webpages in "retina" resolution (as long as you're running 10.7 or above), among the other new features that come with Firefox 18.

Firefox is now the third major browser to support retina resolutions on the Mac. It's no surprise that the first was Safari in the summer of 2012 (when Apple first introduced the 15-inch MacBook Pro) and Google released a version of Chrome with retina support last August. Though it has taken the Firefox team some time to join its browser brethren with this feature, it's certainly better late than never—especially for those who are die-hard Firefox users.

Firefox 18 joins Safari, Chrome with support for retina Macs

To support Retina displays, Firefox has also added JavaScript features to allow pages to detect the display resolution of the screen they're being rendered on and respond appropriately.

The new Firefox version also has a few features for Windows and Mac users who don't have Retina machines.

Firefox 18 has a new JavaScript compiler called IonMonkey. IonMonkey's predecessors, TraceMonkey and JagerMonkey, both had a fairly direct translation from JavaScript to executable code, limiting the number of optimizations that they could perform. IonMonkey creates a new intermediate representation of JavaScript programs that is optimized prior to generating executable code. Mozilla brags that IonMonkey is 26 percent faster than Firefox 17 in the Kraken benchmark, and 7 percent faster than Firefox 17 in the V8 benchmark.

The browser has also gained "preliminary" support for its standards-based video chat, Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC). Not all features are enabled by default, and in a brief experimentation we struggled to make it actually work, with many demo sites assuming that the only browser with WebRTC support is Google Chrome. No doubt this will improve in coming versions.

Mozilla has also updated mobile Firefox for Android. The big new feature for the Android version is the inclusion of the same anti-malware and anti-phishing support that the desktop browser has. Like the desktop version, the malware/phishing detection uses a Google-provided service to blacklist URLs known to be hosting bad content. This has been a standard feature of desktop browsers for some years. However, the desktop malware checking was a poor fit on mobile devices due to the large malware database it uses. Mozilla had to reengineer the malware detection system to make it a better fit for mobile browsing. This makes Firefox the third mobile browser to include malware protection, joining Internet Explorer 10 on Windows Phone 8 and Opera 12.1 on Android.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: browsers, Firefox, Mozilla

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