4 Updates To Mozilla's Overhauled Quantum Firefox

Image: Mozilla

In the nine years that it's been around, Google Chrome's speed and simplicity convinced most of us to make the switch from whatever browser we were using before (though not everyone is a Chrome fan). With a new overhaul and some streamlining, Firefox is hoping to claw back some of that market share.

A newly updated version of Mozilla's browser, with the fancy name Quantum -- or Firefox 57 -- launches today, and at top level, it promises browsing speed that's twice as fast, all while supposedly using significantly less memory than Google Chrome. We've been using the beta version of Quantum for a couple of days, and have picked out a few key improvements worth highlighting.


1) It's fasterĀ 

Mozilla says the browser is twice as fast as earlier versions overall. Image: Screenshot

Firefox Quantum feels fast: Pages generally load up in a snap, even when you've got a bunch of tabs open and are running interactive online apps like maps and email clients. From page load times to the responsiveness you see when you type out a URL in the address bar, the speed increases are apparent.

That's thanks to an all-new web rendering engine, also called Quantum, replacing the Gecko engine that previous versions of Firefox ran on. It's optimised to work better on newer hardware, and for the first time allows Firefox to take advantage of multiple cores to split processing duties.


2) It looks good

Quantum's new lick of paint looks good. Image: Screenshot

Beyond performance improvements, the design of Firefox gets an upgrade with Quantum too: It's cleaner and more modern-looking than the regular Firefox we've grown used to.

It finally looks like a browser that belongs in 2017. Boxes and icons have been made clearer and rough edges have been sanded off. The default theme offers a nice contrast between the active tab and all the others you've got open, while you also get light and dark alternatives with the browser itself.

The Options page gets a slight improvement too, though it looks like most of the spit shine here had already been added in previous versions of Firefox. The settings are laid out in a clear, well-spaced, minimal way, and the Extensions and Themes pages follow the same style.

There's only so much you can do to change the look of a browser -- it's basically just a window onto the web -- but Quantum adds polish and simplicity.


3) It's streamlined

Quantum gets out of the way to show off the web. Image: Screenshot

We've already mentioned the visual improvements that Quantum ushers in, but the way the whole browsing experience has been streamlined deserves a mention. You can at last, for example, combine the address bar and search box together in one.

Up at the top of the browser interface a new Library button holds your Bookmarks, History, Downloads, and other key components for easy access. Overall, the interface gets out of the way.

Even when there's a lot going on, as with the choice of search engines when you start typing keywords into the address bar, Firefox Quantum manages to keep the same minimal and intuitive aesthetic.

Another neat touch is the way the buttons and menus get even bigger and chunkier if you're using them on a touchscreen Windows PC.


4) It comes with some bonus extras

There's a screenshot tool built into the browser. Image: Screenshot

There are myriad little additions, but by far the coolest is a new screenshots tool that's available right from the address bar, which is handy if you need to take clippings of pages. The tool gives you the option to clip certain bits of the site you're on if you don't want to grab the whole webpage.

WATCH MORE: Tech News


Comments

    5) It breaks and disables almost all of your extensions.

      You are quite right, I mistakenly updated FIREFOX to the latest version and POOF 90% of my plugins were disabled!

      Not a happy camper :-(

    I installed it yesterday and my MBP's temp rocked up to over 90 degrees which is very unusual. Also my ram dropped from 8gb free to 2.5gb free.

    I'll give it a go. Firefox has always been a better choice than Chrome.

    Uninstalled it almost immediately and went back to Firefox 52 extended support. Breaking their old addon and extension framework is such a mistake.

    The new WebExt setup may be a better way to go, but they need to make it easier for extensions like "Roomy Bookmarks Toolbar" and "Downthemall" etc. At the moment you can't really manipulate the Bookmarks Toolbar either, so the icons are too small and the thing is too much like Chrome for my liking. I've been using Firefox since it was released, mainly for the massive amount of reconfiguring you could do, which now seems much harder to do.
    You can at last, for example, combine the address bar and search box together in one.You've been able to do this for years.

    I too experienced broken extensions. Specifically Bookmark OS for my bookmarks. I can't deal with the default bookmark manager

    #2 Appearance is a wholly subjective issue. I personally don't like the so called "modern" approach which does away with status bars and menus and so on. I don't mind if that is *optional* and you can turn them on/off but when I have to get an addon to make the browser useful to me they've gone too far.

    Oh, and "looks good" - it looks almost identical to both Edge and Chrome now.

    I was going to chuck this on and test but a couple of the comments have put me off. I think I'll give it a few weeks to let addons catch up and for the Firefox team to iron out the showstopping bugs.

    There was nothing wrong with the arrangement or appearance of the Firefox Browser before this update. Now it looks like IE, which is very annoying. Did they have to mess with anything other than the speed? I loved everything else about it. Give me back the curved tabs. I NEED MY CURVED TABS!!!! Developers, STOP TRYING TO HIDE THE TOOLBAR!!! I like the toolbar, I want it there, in a nice big readable size, arranged as I see fit...
    Re-installing previous Firefox now...

    1) It is not faster.

    2) If you are lucky and you're not one of the large numbers of users who get a buggy screen after Firefox automatically updates on you (small, fuzzy illegible labels, tabs in the wrong spot) which can only be corrected via coding (no easy customization here), you are stuck with a sterile, empty setup instead of being able to arrange things the way you like them (like a convenient side-bar for downloads -- is my download finished? and where did it save? can I conveniently open it from Firefox? NOPE).

    3) It removes most functionality, primarily by getting rid of your add-ons and providing either no replacement or one that is nowhere near as good. So long to the very things that made us stick to Firefox through all the bugs and problems. So long community. So long customization. So long user friendliness.

    4) What new features? They either failed to eliminate a particular feature along with everything else, or give you something that already comes with your computer. Hello? Win10 Snipping Tool anyone?

    A failure on all counts. I've "downgraded", which was a huge improvement to quantum, but my add-ons no longer fully work despite that. I'm looking for a replacement with the features of the old Firefox, but which still work.

    Quantum is rubbish, it is not compatible with 99% of extensions, all which are required to make firefox actually function correctly. I have 15 essential extensions and when firefox updated only 1, yes ONE, continued to work. Stay clear of Quantum until the extension issue is resolved.
    The GUI is absolutely horrible, really nasty looking, I have no idea what the firefox team were thinking.

    Very disappointing.

    It's so crap it's unreal! Annoyed as hell at this change, what made FF good has been stripped away.

    Who the hell cares about a nano second loading time anyway! The attraction was always the superb add ons, which are now defunct, just like FF to me.

    In my experience (WattOS Linux/i5 core/8GiB RAM):

    1: It's no faster. In fact, it's even slower.
    2: Everything on the toolbar has been moved around and hidden away in submenu icons, so it doesn't look good.
    3: The super efficient Bluhell firewall no longer worked, and had to be replaced by two bloated ad-blockers that made it even slower, so no streamlining there.
    4: The 'bonus extras' add to the bloat and make it even slower than before.

    I switched to Vivaldi, which has a super efficient firewall, and is 10x faster than FF.

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