What's New in Firefox 34

Originally published at: http://www.sitepoint.com/whats-new-firefox-34/

It’s time for another (mostly painless) browser upgrade. Mozilla has released Firefox 34 with a number of new features for users and developers plus a controversial switch of default search engine. Let’s take a look under the hood…

Goodbye Google, Hello Yahoo

The decade of default Googling is over. Mozilla’s lucrative partnership with Google has ended and Firefox users will have an alternative for the 100 billion searches they perform every year. According to the press release:

In evaluating our search partnerships, our primary consideration was to ensure our strategy aligned with our values of choice and independence, and positions us to innovate and advance our mission in ways that best serve our users and the Web. In the end, each of the partnership options available to us had strong, improved economic terms reflecting the significant value that Firefox brings to the ecosystem.

For those who can’t read marketing BS, this roughly translates to “Yahoo will give us more money”. As per the deal, foor the next five years:

  • Yahoo will be the default search engine for US users.
  • Yandex will be the default for Russian users.
  • Baidu will continue to be the default for Chinese users.
  • Google will remain to be the default for other users throughout the world. There will inevitably be some commercial payback but there’s no official arrangement.
  • Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, eBay, Amazon, Twitter and Wikipedia will continue to be built-in search options.

As well as monetary concerns, I suspect Google’s commercial vision and own browser didn’t sit well with Mozilla. There are rumors negotiations broke down because Google were not eager to follow Do Not Track privacy standards. Interestingly, Yahoo ignores DNT but will now enable it — but only for Firefox users.

What’s most interesting is what’s not being said. Yahoo no longer power their own search engine; below the surface, it’s Microsoft’s Bing.

Ultimately, little of this matters to users: you can continue to use whichever engine you prefer. Mozilla doesn’t need to make a profit but it’ll be intriguing to discover how the deal affects the income which is plowed back into Firefox development.

Firefox 34 search bar

Improved Search Bar

A new one-click search bar offers suggestions and an icon set with alternative engines. Bizarrely, only US users receive this enhancement so I guess it’s somehow part of the Yahoo deal?

Firefox Hello

Hello is a real-time video chat built by tokbox using WebRTC. In essence, it’s Skype or Google Hangouts without the need for additional software, plugins or a user account. Or even Firefox — a “Hello” link can be sent to anyone with a WebRTC-compatible browser such as Chrome or Opera.

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[quote=“ceeb, post:1, topic:106178”]Improved Search Bar
Bizarrely, only US users receive this enhancement so I guess it’s somehow part of the Yahoo deal?

I’m not in the US, and I’m seeing this, too - although the number of suggestions varies depending on which search engine is set as the default.

Yes, I am located in the Netherlands and unfortunately I am also faced with the distracting search bar - not improvement IMHO.

Wil Ransz

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What the default search engine is or isn’t shouldn’t bug people, least of all the web developer types. The attitude of “we will never ever use anything but Google for search” stems from some sort of crazy, ill-informed nerdocracy. Firefox lets you use numerous search engines (as briefly alluded to in this article) and I am constantly using different ones. If I want to search for a movie title I use the iMDB search; if I’m searching on something where I know I just want the Wikipedia entry then I use the Wikipedia search. And the list goes on and on with Amazon, YouTube, eBay, etc. Heck, some of my searches even use Google (as well as Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, etc.).

Give one or more of these other search engines a try from the search bar sometime. Larry and Sergei will get by perfectly fine. Trust me. They’re good guys and if Google fails because you do one less search using Google I don’t think they will end up in the unemployment line.

I also use multiple search engines (and Google has never been my default), but I do find the new design of the search facility less easy to use than the old - although no doubt I’ll get used to it.

The only thing that bothers me is that the “improved search bar” has less than ideal UX i.e.

most often this

sometimes this

although i realy like firefox, its still not a great multimedia browser.

are you planning to a ‘What’s new’ for version 35 which came out on stable release a few days ago?

It’ll appear very shortly…

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