Wednesday, September 30

Firefox 42 beta features tracking protection against third-party websites

24 hours after releasing Firefox 41, Mozilla on Wednesday updated the beta version of its browser to version 42 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android platforms. The core aim of the update is to enable users test a slew of features, which include its new experimental private browsing mode with tracking protection.

The new private browsing mode on Firefox 42 beta is not just about not saving your browsing history — it also features tracking protection. It blocks online services that could track you while you browse the web. Call it a built-in ad blocker—the new feature is closer to browser add-ons like Ghostery and Privacy Badger because it allows non-tracking ads.

The idea behind the new feature is summed up by Mozilla in a blog post where it said:

“Our hypothesis is that when you open a Private Browsing window in Firefox you’re sending a signal that you want more control over your privacy than current private browsing experiences actually provide. The experimental Private Browsing enhancements ready for testing today [Wednesday] actively block website elements that could be used to record user behavior across sites. This includes elements like content, analytics, social and other services that might be collecting data without your knowledge.”

The new private browsing mode works on all platforms, and has a Control Centre with all of Firefox’s website security and privacy controls.

Here’s the official Firefox 42 changelog:

  • New: Private Browsing with Tracking Protection blocks certain Web elements that could be used to record your behavior across sites
  • New: GTK3 integration (GNU/Linux only)
  • New: Indicator added to tabs that play audio with one-click muting (Adobe Flash supported since version 19)
  • New: Login Manager improvements: Improved heuristics to save usernames and passwords, edit and show all logins in line, Copy/Paste usernames/passwords from the Context menu, migration imports your passwords to Firefox from Windows Chrome and IE; import anytime from the Login Manager
  • New: Control Center that contains site security and privacy controls
  • New: WebRTC improvements: IPV6 support, preferences for controlling ICE candidate generation and IP exposure, Hooks for extensions to allow/deny createOffer/Answer, improved ability for applications to monitor and control which devices are used in getUserMedia
  • Changed: Improved performance on interactive websites that trigger a lot of restyles
  • HTML5: Implemented ES6 Reflect
  • HTML5: Support ImageBitmap and createImageBitmap()
  • HTML5: Ship Push messaging with disabled web notifications from ServiceWorkers
  • Developer: Remote website debugging over Wi-Fi (no USB cable or ADB needed)
  • Developer: Asynchronous call stacks now allow web developers to follow the code flow through setTimeout, DOM event handlers, and Promise handlers.
  • Developer: Configurable Firefox OS Simulator in WebIDE, to simulate reference devices like phones, tablets, even TVs
  • Developer: CSS filter presets in the Inspector
  • Developer: Ability to save filter presets inside CSS Filter Tooltip

As always, there are lots of changes developers should take a closer look at.

Android

While Firefox 42 beta is a bigger release on the desktop, the Android app is still getting some notable improvements. Aside from the new private browsing and tracking protection, the biggest one is probably being able to open links from Android apps in the background.

Here is the full Firefox 42 beta for Android changelog:

  • New: Private Browsing with Tracking Protection blocks certain Web elements that could be used to record your behavior across sites
  • New: Open external URLs from Android apps in the background
  • New: Family-friendly browsing support for Android restricted profiles
  • New: about:logins now lists all saved logins, and allows users to view/edit or delete logins
  • New: Support direct voice input from the URL bar
  • New: Open multiple links without switching apps
  • New: Use “scrollable tabs” for panels navigation
  • Changed: Improved performance on interactive websites that trigger a lot of restyles
  • HTML5: Implemented ES6 Reflect
  • HTML5: Support ImageBitmap and createImageBitmap()
  • Developer: Remote website debugging over Wi-Fi (no USB cable or ADB needed)

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