Firefox 68 releases with recommended extensions, strict security measures, and reimplemented URL bar

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Yesterday, Mozilla announced the release of Firefox 68, which brings new updates like support for BigInts, Contrast Checks, dark mode in reader view, and a reimplemented URL bar. They have also added Enhanced Tracking Protection which blocks known “third-party tracking cookies” by default.

Improved extension security and discovery

Firefox 68 comes with a new reporting feature in ‘about:addons’ using which you can report any security and performance issues with extensions and themes. The team has also redesigned the extensions dashboard in ‘about:addons’ where you can find all the information about your extensions including data and settings access required by each extension.

You can get high quality, secure extensions from Mozilla’s Recommended Extensions program present in ‘about:addons’. These recommended extensions are indicated by special badging on (AMO):

Mozilla recommended extensions

Source: Mozilla

Additionally, to provide users improved protection from threats and annoyances on the web, Firefox 68 comes with cryptomining and fingerprinting protections added to strict content blocking settings in Privacy & Security preferences.

Read also: Mozilla adds protection against fingerprinting and Cryptomining scripts in Firefox Nightly and Beta

Support for JavaScript BigInt

Firefox 68 comes with support for JavaScript’s new BigInt numeric type, which is currently in stage 3 of the ECMAScript specification. Previously, JavaScript only had the Number numeric type. As JavaScript considers numbers as floating-point, they can represent both integers and decimal fractions.

Source: Mozilla

However, the limitation is that 64-bits floats fail to reliably represent integers larger than 2 ** 53. To make working with large number easier, a new primitive is introduced, BigInt. It provides a way to represent whole numbers larger than 2 ** 53.

Updates in DevTools

In addition to enhancing the already smart debugging tools, Firefox 68 brings more improvements in DevTools:

  • Accessibility checks in DevTools: This release ships with a new capability for DevTools that check for basic accessibility issues in your web pages. The Accessibility Inspector now comes with a new ‘Check’ that currently reports any color contrast issue with text on a page. The Firefox team plans to add a number of audit tools to highlight accessibility problems on your website in future releases.
  • A way to emulate print media from DevTools: A button is added to the Page inspector using which you can enable “print media emulation”. This makes it easy to see what elements of a page will be visible when printed.
  • Improved CSS warnings: The Web console will show you more information about CSS warnings and include a link to related nodes.
  • A Web console filter: You can now filter content in the Web console using a valid regular expression. Here’s a video showing how this works:

Web compatibility

This release fixes a few web compatibility issues to ensure that every user will be able to access a website regardless of their choice of device or browser:

  • Internet Explorer’s legacy rules property and addRule() and removeRule() CSS methods are added to the CSSStyleSheet interface.
  • Safari’s ‘-webkit-line-clamp’ CSS property is also added.

Support for CSS scroll snapping

Firefox 68 comes with support for CSS scroll snapping that gives you a standardized way to control the behavior of scrolling inside a container. It works in a very similar fashion to how native apps work on phones and tablets.

Now that this update has landed in Firefox, developers will have the same version of the specification as Chrome and Safari. Developers who have used the old Firefox implementation of the Scroll Snap specification are required to update their code, otherwise scroll snapping will no longer work in Firefox 68 and up.

The reimplemented URL bar, QuantumBar

Firefox’s URL bar, which is also known as the AwesomeBar, has been completely reimplemented using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript web technologies. This overhauled version is named ”QuantumBar”. Though not much will change appearance-wise, its updated architecture behind the scenes will make it easier to maintain and extend in the future.

Access to cameras and other media devices now require HTTPS

Starting from Firefox 68, camera and microphone will require an HTTPS connection to work. The getUserMedia method will throw NotAllowedError if you try to access the media devices from an insecure HTTP connection, similar to how Chrome works.

Many developers are happy with this update. A user on Hacker News commented, “It’s fantastic that it works with localhost (and I assume, and it’s fantastic that it doesn’t work with anything else. This is the best middle ground.

However, some are also worried considering that this will affect the current working of their apps or websites. “This sucks, my community[1] has a local offline-first video/audio call app that we run on a physical mesh network. This will make it impossible for people to talk to each other, without first needing to be connected online to some certificate authority, or without some extraordinarily difficult pre-installation process, which is often not even possible on a phone. HTTPS was important, but now it’s being used to shoehorn dependency on a centralized online-only authority. Perfectly ripe to censor anyone.”, wrote a Hacker News user

To know more in detail, check out the official announcement by Mozilla.

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