Once the darling alternative browser to Mac and Windows users alike, Google’s Chrome browser has pushed Firefox deep into third place, another step closer to Opera-like obscurity. Worse, Firefox has mostly missed the entire mobile revolution of smartphones and tablets.
Yet, here we are at Firefox v. 29.
Best. Firefox. Ever.
Version 29? Yes. Both Google and Mozilla have adopted a crazy version number convention that seems to have no end in sight.
If you think a Firefox browser at version 29 is unseemly, check out Google’s Chrome now at version 34.0.1847.131 (as of today; tomorrow might be different).
For version 29.x Mozilla seems to have focused efforts on areas of importance to the user base. Security, speed, privacy, and eye candy.
Mozilla claims the Mac version of Firefox is faster than Apple’s Safari. It might be, but it’s hard to tell. All major browsers render pages faster than ever these days.
Mozilla claims the Mac version of Firefox is more private than Chrome. That’s like saying the new Pope is more Catholic than the previous Pope.
Remember, to Google, you’re the product, so getting you to part with personal information makes the company a lot of money.
Mozilla has a little iOS-inspired eye candy and a slightly flatter look to go along with all the standard goodies.
If you’re a Firefox user then you’re likely to appreciate the new customization mode with the easy access menu in the righthand corner. It’s like one-click controls you can drag and organize however you wish.
If you don’t want Google to dig through your data then you can setup a Firefox account and sync personal information between devices.
Finally, if you like tabs you’ll appreciate the slimmer, lighter, flatter look.
Preferences in Firefox remain extensive, though, and include options for Tabs (what they do and when), Content (think fonts and size), Privacy options, Security options, an Advanced tab for accessibility and granular control, and Firefox Sync.
Is there enough that’s new and different in Firefox today to make a Safari or Chrome user switch? Therein lies the problem. Apple’s Safari doesn’t have all the Firefox bells and whistles. Google’s Chrome is basically a spy machine in sheep’s clothing.
Mozilla has only a few ways to differentiate Firefox from Safari and Chrome on the Mac– privacy, and extensive list of extensions and fails in the latest version to focus strongly enough on either.
Firefox has almost no presence on mobile platforms and none on iPhone or iPad. I don’t expect Mozilla or Firefox to disappear any time soon, but relevance already has.