There's a new version of Firefox. It's faster, rich with features and ready for prime time (even if Mozilla isn't admitting it yet).
Firefox 3.5 (code named Shiretoko) is still in beta -- beta release 4, to be exact, but I've been using the beta for a couple of weeks now without any problems.
In fact, Shiretoko is messing with the normal early-adopter experience. Usually, in search of some new advantage, I dump an existing, reliable app for a newer one that still in beta (or even alpha). Instead of getting an advantage, I get tripped up by bugs. My productivity plummets and I spend hours either getting the beta to work, or getting rid of it and returning to the earlier, stable version.
Shiretoko's a surprise, because the 3.5 beta is better than the Firefox 3.0.10 I had been using. It's quick, it uses a lot less memory and it doesn't lock up my computer.
Java with Caffeine
Hiding Your Tracks
Shiretoko also offers a feature to better protect your privacy. I didn't say "new" feature, because Mozilla is actually catching up to other browsers, but it's still nice to have.
Browsers help you get around by remembering where you've been on the web and what you've been doing. That makes it easier for you to retrace your steps, get back to key sites and breeze through security at, for instance, your online bank.
It also makes it easier for someone else to retrace your steps, get back to key sites you've visited and, potentially, do some online banking for you.
Firefox 3.5 offers an option to "Start Private Browsing." Once you click it, Firefox stops recording your history, cookies and any passwords you enter. That protects you from anyone who might want to follow your tracks.
When you stop private browsing, Firefox remembers were you were before you started. It opens up the same tabs to the same sites.
Where in the World are You
The new Firefox also offers you an options to have less privacy. Some websites are now "location aware." That's your location that you're aware of, they presumably always knew where they were.
These sites, with the help of Google Geolocation, can know where you are and tailor the information they offer accordingly.
You may have noticed that some sites already do that. I've been to a few blogs that list the locations of their current visitors in a sidebar. Firefox lets you decide whether to offer your location to a website or not.
If you want to try out Firefox 3.5 beta, you can download it here.