Firefox update refreshes new tab and start pages, adds SPDY support

As part of Firefox’s rapid release cycle, which delivers a major update every six weeks, Mozilla is updating the new tab page with a helpful selection of thumbnails of the most frequently and recently visited web pages, ready for you to click and go.

New tab page screenshot

While the collection is dynamic, and meant to adapt to your browsing behavior, you can also pin a thumbnail clicking on a thumbnail’s pin button.

To add a specific page, you can drag a bookmark from the bookmarks toolbar o menu, you can then drag thumbnails around to set it to your needs.

Firefox’s Start page now features icons to access the most frequently used preferences: Add-ons, downloads, bookmarks, history, Sync, and options.

Firefox new start page screenshot

In the background, Firefox now features SPDY support, on by default. SPDY is a new internet protocol that aims for faster delivery of web pages through compression, prioritization, and multiplexing. Originally proposed by Google, and now under standardization efforts and implementation by Apache, node.js, nginx, other web server makers, as well as content providers including Google, Twitter and a few others.

Reliability also gets an important improvement, thanks to a new Reset Firefox button. If you find yourself stuck with a non responding Firefox, you may want to try resetting it. Firefox will make a new profile for you keeping your bookmarks, history, forms, passwords, and cookies, giving you a quick way to get back to work.

Firefox resent button screenshot

Finally, in the performance department, if you choose to restore you previous session every time Firefox starts, only the currently visible tab is loaded during startup. The other tabs are restored as you click on them, making it faster to get to the content you want.

To get the previous behavior (to load all tabs when restoring a session), go to Options and uncheck Don’t load tabs until selected in the General tab.

Firefox don't load tabs until selected option screenshot

And that’s for this period. Firefox 14 is due in 6 weeks, and I will comment on the upcoming features in the next post.


Firefox’s New Tab Page lands on Nightly and Aurora channels

It has taken a long while, but finally, Mozilla is bringing a more helpful and lively new tab page to replace the current blank page you normally get.

It has been available in Nightly releases for a few weeks now, but it has been turned on for a week onthe Aurora channel so more users can provide feedback.

Initially you get a set of Firefox recommendations based on your most frequently and recently visited pages. You won’t get a thumbnail until you actually click on one of them. Somehow I couldn’t get a thumbnail for my local bank or twitter no matter how many times I clicked on the thumbnails, but this is part of the bug hunting at this stage.

You can reorder, pin or remove (and undo) a thumbnail. You can also drag a bookmark to a thumbnail position to add it to the new tab page, though it is not discoverable at all. I just tried for good and it worked.

There is no option to rename the thumbnail or add more items to the page, but the whole idea is to make this a simple unbotrusive feature. New tab backgrounds are also under consideration but there is no ETA, so don’t hold your breath.

For a do-it-all new tab page, I recommend New Tab King.

The new new tab page is coming with Firefox 13, that is June later this year. To try it now, grab an Aurora build, or, if feeling particularly bold, a Nightly.