I just saw a new Firefox browser is out, version 5. I started looking to see what is new in Firefox 5. The hype is 1,000’s if new things. The reality is; not much… from the users perspective. There are the ubiquitous bug fixes, plus new security measures and a few new features.
Internet Explorer has the largest number of users. However, that does not make it the most popular browser. As it is built into Windows, new and novice computer users have no clue that better browsers are available. Among intermediate and advanced computer users alternate viewers are popular. They actually make a choice as to which browser to use. So, while debatable it is Firefox that is the more popular browser. Behind it is Google Chrome, my favorite.
On the Apple side is Safari. It comes with the Apple Operating System (OS). So, it too is in the position of Internet Explorer. Only the more knowledgeable Apple users ever switch to a different browser.
When it comes to version updates Google Chrome leads, as it does updates in background and the user only needs to initially set the browser to allow updates. I had to look to see which versions is am on, 14.0.x Dev.
In May Craig Buckler published an article on Sitepoint.com about update rates for browsers. Firefox updates from version 4 to 5 are the highest of all browsers. That may just mean they have a better update alerting system. Plus the Firefox user base is more technically proficient and likely to update. For Google it shows
NetMarketShare.com shows the market share of each browser.
Trends in Browser Use
For some months Internet Explorer and Firefox have been losing market share. Google Chrome and Safari have been gaining share.
Firefox 5 adds the idea of Apps Tabs. If you have a bookmark for your gmail account you can change this to an Apps Tab. You make and remove Apps Tabs by right-clicking on tabs and selecting Pin as App or Unpin.
The whole Apps Tab thing seems to be a way to make your often used bookmarks more easily accessible. There is more to them than being a simple bookmark. They can’t accidentally be closed. The Apps Tabs open the page when the browser is started. An Apps Tab changes color when a page, not visible, updates. Clicking links in an Apps Tab page opens a new tab, rather than closing the page and moving to the linked page. So, they are pretty handy for pages you have open most of the day.
The idea of the Panorama feature is an extension of the Apps Tabs. Panorama includes a way to group Apps. In general it shows the pages and apps you have open in the browser. The Panorama thing is sort of a visual bookmarks system. Working with this new system is intuitive AFTER you learn how it works. There are few hints to clue one into the new features or whasup with them. Check out the instructions here: Firefox 5 Panorama How To.
As one creates Panorama Groups you can add Apps Tabs to the Panorama Group.
I started following Firefox’s Twitter. That flooded my Twitter account with Firefox stuff. I had to turn it off. It was just too much stuff. I lasted a couple of hours. See: @Firefox
The Apps Tabs and Panorama features are the two features I think set version 4 and 5 apart. However, I am doubtful the visual system will work well for those with thousands of bookmarks and a wide range of interests. Some mix of this new style and the previous lists of bookmarks in folders will be the power users’ solution.