Firefox 4 review

We’ve been using Firefox 4 for a while and it manages to do the impossible. It takes a cue from Chrome’s less-is-more philosophy, with reduced clutter and a streamlined look – but it also packs in new features galore.

How does it do this? Essentially by reinventing the Firefox interface – hiding the bits you don’t need and tweaking the bits you do. There are lots of features to get excited about but our favourites are syncing, tab groups and app tabs.

Syncing enables you to share your bookmarks and other data between all the devices you use Firefox on. We’ve been doing a version of this by switching to Google Bookmarks for some time – but this is transparent and integrated in a way Chrome has yet to manage.

App Tabs cater to the increasing trend towards cloud computing, enabling you to pin frequently used sites permanently as reduced tabs – great for online email and social media. Tab Groups are another way to get better organised with collections of sites you can add to a single collection and call up again when you need them. One oversight here is you can’t save tab groups – though you can reopen recently closed tabs or restore a previous session.

Firefox adopts some Safari style, with tabs now prominent and menus hidden away

There can’t be a new browser release without an argument about speed. Usually it’s a spat about JavaScript rendering or page drawing. Yes, pages do snap up fast, but the real news is that the handling of inline video and 3D (via burgeoning standard WebGL) are hellishly fast in Firefox.

OUR VERDICT

And, because this is the Mozilla project we’re talking about, Firefox 4 has better support for HTML5, CSS3 and even WebM, Google’s chosen format for the future of web video. The real test, though? We’re still using it, even though we’ve finished reviewing it.

Find the best price