Tech Mozilla's Firefox web browser just got its biggest update in 13 years – here's what's new

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Thirteen years after its Firefox browser debuted, Mozilla released a brand-new browser, called Firefox Quantum, that it says is faster than its predecessor.

A man is seen next to a Firefox logo at a Mozilla stand during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, February 28, 2013. REUTERS/Albert Gea play

A man is seen next to a Firefox logo at a Mozilla stand during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, February 28, 2013. REUTERS/Albert Gea

(Thomson Reuters)
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  • Mozilla released an upgraded version of its Firefox browser on Tuesday.
  • Called Firefox Quantum, the browser is twice as fast as the old version and uses 30% less memory than Google's Chrome browser, Mozilla says.
  • It also features content recommendations from the reading-list app Pocket.


It's a good day to be a Firefox diehard.

On Tuesday, Mozilla launched Firefox Quantum, a reengineered version of the nonprofit's popular Firefox web browser.

It's the culmination of six years of research and development and a year and a half of engineering work, according to Mozilla's chief marketing officer, Jascha Kaykas-Wolff. And the company says Quantum represents the biggest overhaul of Firefox since it debuted in 2004.

The biggest change? It's twice as fast as the Firefox of just six months ago.

Mozilla's engineers rebuilt the core engine, giving it brand new guts and interacting with more than 7 million lines of code in the process. Mozilla says Quantum also uses 30% less memory than Google's Chrome browser and is meant for those who surf the net by rapidly switching among many tabs. So basically everyone.

The user interface also got an overhaul, and users will notice brand-new themes, tab designs, and menu items. The redesign is part of a larger Mozilla initiative, called Photon, to unify and modernize the appearance of everything Firefox.

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The name Quantum was the developers' code name for all the UI work, but as time progressed they realized that what they were working on would be a new product and thus needed a new name.

Firefox is an open-source project, and more than 700 people around the globe contributed code to Quantum, Mozilla says.

Another change in Quantum that users will notice is the integration of Pocket, a product Mozilla acquired in February that lets people save articles and other content to a personal reading list.

With Quantum, every time a user opens a new tab, they will see three Pocket recommended stories before they even start searching. They're chosen from the millions of items users are saving to Pocket throughout the day. Because of this, Mozilla says, "they do a great job of representing what's worth reading and watching on the web."

Mozilla sees the internet as a public resource — and just as recycling helps the environment, it says, using a browser developed by a nonprofit helps a free internet.

"You should feel good about using Firefox because it contributes to Mozilla, which contributes to a healthy internet," Kaykas-Wolff said.