When Mozilla launched its completely rewritten Firefox for Android, we found a lot of things to like, but where there is light, there's also shadow. Due to some unfinished APIs, add-on support is severely limited, so as of now, only nine hand-picked extensions are available for Mozilla's mobile browser. The situation is improving a bit with the lastet stable Firefox release, version 83. Ten more add-ons are making their way into the new version of the mobile browser.
The brand new Firefox for Android rolled out to everyone last month, but it still lacks the broad extension support that made the original browser so popular. To quote Douglas Adams, "this had made many people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move." Thankfully, experimental support for sideloading any Firefox extension has now arrived in the Nightly branch.
While many extensions are great for enhancing your browsing experience, they can be a tacky business for people who aren't at least somewhat familiar with the inner workings of browsers. Google noticed an influx of fraudulent paid extensions in January this year, and the situation only got worse when lockdowns first started and some people tried spreading misinformation or profiting off the pandemic through any channel they could find. With that in mind, Google has now decided to scrap paid extensions altogether.
Mozilla has been working on a rewritten version of Firefox for Android, designed to be faster and easier to maintain, and it started rolling out to the stable channel last week. Even though the new version is absolutely an upgrade in some areas, replacing the older browser before the newer codebase had all the same features has proven to be an unpopular move.
Mozilla has been working on a brand new version of Firefox for Android, nicknamed 'Fenix,' for over a year at this point. The new codebase slowly trickled down from Preview to Beta, and at long last, the aging stable browser is now receiving the update. However, fans of the stable browser might still notice a few features missing.
Firefox Preview has only received a significant update with version 5.2 with improved tab management and voice search a few days ago, but Mozilla is already working on the next feature-filled update. The unstable Nightly now supports three new add-ons and sees smaller refinements to the three-button overflow menu. The dead-space custom tab bug that's plaguing the current Firefox Preview build is also nowhere to be seen.
According to a report by Reuters, researchers at Awake Security uncovered a new spyware campaign that threatened the security of Chrome users. Google removed the more than 70 offending extensions from the Chrome Web Store last month after being alerted to the malicious activity, but not before they were downloaded 32 million times by unsuspecting users.
The coronavirus pandemic ruffled Chrome and Chrome OS releases quite a bit, so Google paused updates for a short time, even omitting version 82 altogether. But now the company is getting back on track and has announced the release of Chrome OS 83. It'll start rolling out to first people this week, and it brings a whole slew of neat improvements to the table. None of them are as big as the addition of gesture navigation we've seen in version 81, though.
Google Chrome hasn't implemented the extreme level of tracker/ad blocking that we've seen in other web browsers over the past few years (I'm sure Google's position as an advertising company has nothing to do with that), but it has been taking small steps. Google has proposed new web standards that would make fingerprinting and cross-site tracking much more difficult, and now the company is announcing some browser-level features that aim to improve privacy and security.
The Chrome Web Store is still something of a wild west — seemingly every month, there's a story about some popular extension stealing user data or doing something else it's not supposed to do. Google has already made several policy changes lately, and its next target is spammy extensions.