As Mozilla turns 15, Firefox 20 debuts with new privacy features

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Late last year Mozilla revealed a new private-browsing feature that was in the works for an upcoming version of its Firefox browser, and that's just what appeared in Mozilla's Final Release channel on Tuesday.

Specifically, Firefox 20 made its official debut with a desktop version for Windows, Mac, and Linux, and a mobile version for Android.

“Firefox includes a new enhancement to private browsing that allows you to open a new private browsing window without closing or changing your current browsing session,” explains the post officially announcing Firefox 20 on the Mozilla Blog. “You can shop for a birthday gift in a private window with your existing browsing session uninterrupted.”

A new download panel in the Firefox toolbar, meanwhile, makes it easier to download files with Firefox by allowing users to monitor, view, and locate downloaded files without having to switch to another window, as shown in the video below.

50 million more phones

On the mobile side, Firefox 20 for Android supports private browsing on a per-tab basis, Mozilla said, giving users a way to open a new private browsing tab during their current browsing session and to switch between private and standard tabs within the same browsing session.

Also new in Firefox for Android are a way to customize the shortcuts on the home screen with the user's most frequently visited sites and support for additional devices running on ARMv6 processors, including the Samsung Galaxy Next, HTC Aria, HTC Legend, Samsung Dart, Samsung Galaxy Pop, and the Samsung Galaxy Q. The result, Mozilla says, is a better Web experience on almost 50 million more phones.

Numerous critical bug fixes and developer features round out the new release of the free and open source browser, which is now available as a download  on the Mozilla site.

'A Web that's more open'

Also on Tuesday, meanwhile, Mozilla announced that it turned 15 on March 31, sparking several looks back at what it has achieved during that time.

“Mozilla has helped shift the center of gravity to a Web that’s more open — that gives more people the opportunity to create and enjoy the Web on *their* terms,” wrote Mitchell Baker, chair of the Mozilla Foundation, in a blog post on the topic. “Billions of people experience the openness of the Web every day as they create, connect and invent in ways that reflect their goals and dreams, without needing the permission of a few commercial organizations.”


At the same time, the Web now faces threats just as big as those 15 years ago, Baker warned.

“As the role of data grows and device capabilities expand, the Internet will become an even more central part of our lives,” she explained. “The need for individuals to have some control over how this works and what we experience is fundamental.”

In the coming years, Mozilla aims to play a key role in that battle, Baker added.

A slideshow on Mozilla's site illustrates key milestones in its 15-year history.

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