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6 Key Facts About Firefox 6

Firefox 6 has officially launched. Here are the six most important things you should know about the latest Mozilla browser.

Top 12 Firefox Add-Ons
Slideshow: Top 12 Firefox Add-Ons
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Continuing its trend for fast-track releases, Mozilla has officially launched Firefox 6, just two months after the launch of Firefox 5. While hardly a major overhaul, the new version includes a number of noteworthy feature updates and additions. Here are six of the most salient developments in Firefox 6.

1. Site-Specific Permissions

Firefox 6 includes a few tweaks aimed at keeping users more secure and putting power over data privacy in the hands of the end user. A new permissions manager, accessible by typing "about:permissions" in the address bar, lets users set site-specific permissions to control acceptance of cookies, location sharing, pop-ups, and password and data storage. This allows users to set their overall security settings to be highly restrictive, without sacrificing usability on trusted sites. IT pros will want to spread the word about this feature to their users, since it doesn't appear in the standard menus.

2. Enhanced Site Identity Block

The site identity block--that box to the left of the site's url--has received some attention in this update. While the update hasn't added significant new functionality, it should now be easier for users to determine whether they're looking at a legit site with valid security credentials or a phishing site.

3. Faster Tab Groups

Firefox's Panorama feature, which debuted in Firefox 4, groups tabs together to help cut down clutter at the top of the browser. This new version fixes several bugs with Tab Groups, including a bug that caused tabs to switch groups after a restart, and also speeds up the feature's performance.

4. Improved Firefox Sync

Firefox Sync, which lets you sync your bookmarks, history, passwords, and other settings between your desktop Firefox and Firefox Mobile, now plays a more prominent role on the browser. If enabled, the feature will now prompt users to sync newly created bookmarks and passwords.

5. New Android Version

Alongside Firefox 6 for desktop, Mozilla has launched an update to its Android browser, streamlining the look of the browser, as well as some navigation features. Some of the new tweaks are aimed at making the browser easier to use, though most are designed to enable new developer features that now appear on both the desktop and mobile browsers.

6. Tons of Developer Tweaks

Firefox development is on a tear right now, with new versions projected every six weeks for the near future. By Thanksgiving, we should see Firefox 8 emerge. In Firefox 6, most of the changes are actually invisible to end users, but might draw significant attention from developers. A new Scratchpad tool will let developers prototype JavaScript code on the fly without accessing the console. The Web Console has a timesaving auto-complete feature. And server-sent APIs and WebSockets will enable new ways of communicating between servers and browsers.

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