By Alexandra Burlacu | Apr 03, 2013 09:01 AM EDT
Mozilla just released a new version of its popular Firefox browser, Firefox 20.0, bringing some notable changes and improvements to enhance the browsing experience.
As with most new versions, the new Firefox 20.0 brings a combination of stability improvements, HTML5 additions and bug fixes so users can browse the Web more smoothly. While these enhancements may not sound so interesting, the latest stable release of Firefox 20.0 also adds some notable new features such as improved private browsing, a new download scheme, and the ability to close plug-ins without affecting the browser itself.
Private browsing is far from new on Firefox, but enabling this option in the previous implementation involved handling the entire browsing session in private mode. Now, Mozilla touts the ability to browse the Web "without saving any information about which sites and pages you've visited" on a per-window basis. In other words, users can now have private browsing sessions in windows running simultaneously alongside normal windows, similar to how Google handles its Incognito mode in Chrome.
If, by some chance, some Internet users out there don't know what private browsing is, the feature allows users to browse the Web without leaving traces of visited pages, form and search bar entries, downloads, cookies, cached Web content or passwords on the browser client. Basically, private browsing stays private, leaving no trace of the session. The main purpose of this feature is to protect a user's privacy across shared machines.
Private browsing aside, the new Firefox 20.0 also brings a revamp to the download experience, in a Safari-like manner. The new version sports a new interface and download button next to the search bar, allowing users to keep track of active and previous sessions more easily. The Safari-like download manager simply pops out from the toolbar so users can check on a download without having to open a separate window. Clicking the download manager icon will still bring up a list of the most recent downloads, but during active downloads the button will change into a timer bar, estimating the remaining time for the transfer to complete.
Lastly, Firefox 20.0 adds the ability to close hanging plug-ins, without the browser itself hanging. It may not sound like much, but for millions of Firefox users who repeatedly lost sessions over a faulty plug-in the new feature is a huge relief.