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Firefox 4 beta 4 released to the wild

by Pete Mason on 25 August 2010, 10:24

Tags: Firefox, Mozilla

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qazp4

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As we head full-speed towards the November release of Firefox 4, Mozilla has put its stamp of approval on the latest beta. Firefox 4 beta 4 brings the normal slew of fixes and tweaks as well as introducing a new way of viewing tabs and turning on Firefox Sync by default.

Tab Panorama

Tab Panorama - formerly known as Tab Candy - is probably the headline feature of this release, and it's actually a fairly unique way of handling your tabs. By pressing the panorama button - or hitting Cmd/Ctrl+Space - you are presented with an overview of all of the current tabs, similar to OSX's Exposé feature.

From here, tabs can be moved around and placed into named groups.  Click on one of the tabs, and the browser will display that page while only showing that group of tabs in the window. Each group is contained in the same browser window which means that the ‘hidden' tabs just sit on the Panorama until you switch back to them.

In the picture, you can see that I'm reading a few webcomics in one group (don't tell the editor!), while catching up on the latest news on HEXUS in another.

Whether this is a useful feature will obviously come down to personal preference, but it seems to make managing workflows and grouping tasks a whole lot easier. For those who try and juggle a lot of webpages at once it could prove to be invaluable.

Firefox Sync by default

The other major inclusion is the addition of Firefox Sync by default. This was available to older versions of the browser as an add-on called Weave, but for the first time installing Firefox will automatically prompt you to set up a Sync account.

This will copy all of your bookmarks, history, passwords, open tabs and form-fill data to Mozilla's servers so that you can access them from anywhere, including the new Firefox Home app for iPhones. Not only does this make it easy to continue working from anywhere, but it acts as a convenient backup of all of you browser data.

Firefox 4 beta 4 is available now from Mozilla, along with a full list of changes in this version.

HEXUS Forums :: 3 Comments

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So Firefox Sync is basically Xmarks but built into the browser?
Essentially, yes.

It's not really a new feature, though, even for Firefox. Like it says, Weave has been around since Firefox 3.5ish, and Sync has been built in to all of the betas of Firefox 4. The change is just that its on by default now, and actually asks you on first boot to set up an account.

Chrome has also had built in Sync for some time.
It was called Weave, not Wave.

And unlike Xmarks, it goes beyond bookmarks and passwords. It allows you to sync tabs, history etc, so you can access open(ed) tabs on another computer, which i find useful at times.