Another six weeks has passed and now we are looking at yet another numbered version of Firefox because Firefox 17 is now available for public consumption. It was not too long ago when Mozilla released Firefox 16 for Windows, Mac and Linux. As expected, the number of changes and new features isn't exactly set to blow anyone's mind although bug fixes and performance enhancements are always welcome. However with Firefox 17, social networking buffs will surely have something to look forward to in the latest version of the popular web browser. More details about Firefox 17 after the jump.
Unlike most of Firefox's previous releases, version 17 actually offers quite a few noteworthy new features. One of the key features of Firefox 17 is the first implementation of Social API. The idea of Social API is to enable users to easily see and access various social networking features such as incoming messages, notifications, and the ability to chat with friends. As this process has been streamlined significantly, you will be able to manage your social media accounts without switching tabs. For its first implementation of its Social API, Mozilla has worked with Facebook but the company promises to add more social networks down the road.
Users of Firefox 17 will now be able to download Facebook Messenger. With Messenger turned on, you can now "use Facebook right from your Firefox browser so you can continue your conversations wherever you go on the web." On top of that, you can also view your notifications, friend requests and messages by clicking on the icons which is located at the upper-right hand corner of Firefox's toolbar. This sidebar can be hidden easily just in case you want to regain the extra screen.
Also new in Mozilla 17 is the addition of a new feature called "Click-to-play plugins." If you are using outdated versions of any plugin such as Flash, Firefox will no longer load the content which utilizes Flash by default. Users are given the option to manually click the content to play it or they can choose to update the outdated plugin by providing a link which will install a newer, more secure version. This is a good thing because it is a user-friendly way to warn users about plugins which may be potentially unsecure.
Another noteworthy change is that Firefox 17 will drop support for OS X 10.5 or OS X Leopard. Although Firefox is not the first browser which has stopped supporting the aging operating system. Chrome dropped Leopard support about a few weeks ago, and Safari stopped churning out updates for the OS back in July 2011. So those who are still running Leopard on their machines may want to rethink their decision of refusing to upgrade.
There are other bunch of changes, developer features, and bug fixes that come with Firefox 17. Check out the complete change log below:
First revision of the Social API and support for Facebook Messenger
Click-to-play blocklisting implemented to prevent vulnerable plugin versions from running without the user's permission (see blog post)
Updated Awesome Bar experience with larger icons
Mac OS X 10.5 is no longer supported
SVG FillPaint and StrokePaint implemented
Improvements that make the Web Console, Debugger and Developer Toolbar faster and easier to use
New Markup panel in the Page Inspector allows easy editing of the DOM
Sandbox attribute for iframes implemented, enabling increased security
Over twenty performance improvements, including fixes around the New Tab page
Pointer lock doesn't work in web apps (769150)
Page scrolling on sites with fixed headers (780345)
Firefox 17 is definitely a good update with some noteworthy new features. Social networking enthusiasts will surely appreciate the new Social API and with the "Click-to-play plugins" feature, the browser has just stepped up in terms of security. You can download Firefox 17 using the official direct links provided below.