The Mozilla Foundation released a new version of Firefox this week—release number 59. It treads further down the performance improvement path that November's Quantum release began, but its most interesting feature is a quality-of-life one: Firefox 59 users can prevent some websites from popping up requests to send notifications to your device or from requesting to use your camera unexpectedly.
Specifically, the update notes say:
Added settings in about:preferences to stop websites from asking to send notifications or access your device's camera, microphone, and location, while still allowing trusted websites to use these features
Numerous websites, especially news sites and other publishers, request to send these notifications so the notification center of, say, your Mac will be filled with news stories with enticing headlines for you to click, driving more traffic. It's annoying, and it muddies the waters of the Web browser's user experience. You can add trusted websites as exceptions, but all such requests will be blocked otherwise.
The feature is buried in Firefox's settings a bit. Here's how you find it:
That's the most interesting feature in Firefox 59, but there are some other notable changes. As noted previously, the update notes describe performance improvements:
- Faster load times for content on the Firefox home page
- Faster page load times by loading either from the networked cache or the cache on the user’s hard drive (Race Cache With Network)
- Improved graphics rendering using Off-Main-Thread Painting (OMTP) for Mac users (OMTP for Windows was released in Firefox 58)
The update also allows you to rearrange your top sites on the Firefox home page, allows annotations on screenshots within the browser, improves the WebExtensions API and Real-Time Communications (RTC) capabilities, and adds support for W3C specs for pointer events. There are also some new default search engines available in certain languages (Ecosia for German and Qwant for French), and there are, of course, security updates.
The update is available now on all platforms. The Mozilla Foundation has also released Firefox for the Amazon Fire TV.