Firefox 9 Promises Speed, Adds Support for Lion and Android

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Mozilla's Firefox 9 browser will make its official debut on Tuesday, promising a raft of new features and speeds as much as 30 percent faster than those offered by its predecessor.

Now available as a free download for Windows, Mac, and Linux, Firefox 9 offers enhanced JavaScript performance and new developer tools that make browsing the Web much faster, Mozilla says.

Other highlights include Mac OS X Lion support and an Android version that's optimized for tablets.

Up to 30 Percent Faster

Firefox 9's Type Inference is what's delivering the boost to JavaScript performance, built to make it much faster to load and run websites and Web apps rich in pictures, videos, games, and 3D graphics.

Type Inference is a feature of the SpiderMonkey JavaScript engine that integrates with the JaegerMonkey JIT compiler to provide analysis and help generate more efficient code.

Firefox with Type Inference is up to 30 percent speedier on JavaScript benchmarks like Kraken and V8, Mozilla says.

The new Firefox is also faster because it supports chunking XHR requests, allowing websites to display content as it’s downloaded rather than waiting for the entire download to complete. This will be especially noticeable for sites that download large sets of data or use AJAX, Mozilla notes.

Tablet-Focused Features

On Macs, meanwhile, Firefox for Mac OS X Lion supports two-finger swipe gestures for an easy way to navigate between websites.

Firefox for Mac also has an enhanced look and feel that makes it easier to browse the Web using multiple monitors, Mozilla says.

Then there's the Android version of Firefox 9, which is designed to leverage tablets' larger screen sizes as well as other popular tablet features.

The Awesome Screen, for example, integrates Firefox Sync and “makes it easy to access your browsing history, open tabs, bookmarks, and saved passwords across desktop and mobile devices so you can type less and browse more,” Mozilla says.

Fresh HTML5 Support

Finally, one more benefit for developers is that Firefox for Android supports the HTML5 Form Validation API, automatically validating website form fields like numbers, emails, and URLs without requiring that developers write custom code or use a third-party library. The new Firefox release will be offered automatically to existing users of Mozilla's browser.

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