Firefox 16 has been released. This time however, the changes are mostly subtle and developer oriented. As usual we have a fresh piece pitting the browser against the latest iterations of its major opponents as well.
Download: Firefox 16.0.1 [17.4 MB]
New Features? Well not so many this time!
- Incremental Garbage Collection : Firefox 16 features incremental garbage collection which makes the overall user experience smoother and less laggy, while making Firefox respond quicker to mouse clicks and key presses. You can dig into this very informative article from Developer Bill McCloskey for detailed explanation about this improvement.
- Web App Support : Firefox now sports some basic webapp support which lets developers to install app in Firefox. The marketplace for the webapps looks set to be launched somewhere later this year.
Webapps can be the “next-big thing” because they do not require the browser window, can be run offline as well and is built with just the browser thus eliminating the dependence on the platform it is run on.
- Pioneering Standards (like always) : Firefox has even better CSS and HTML5 standards support in its latest avatar, with the unprefixing of several stable CSS features as well as HTML5 API’s like the Battery and Vibration API, along with the several other tweaks targeted towards the developers.
- New developer tool : A new developer tool bar is included as well which sports of easy access to the developer tools. This can be accessed anytime by just pressing Shift + F2.
- Lastly Firefox adds preliminary support for VoiceOver for Mac OS X, which is turned on by default.
Apart from these, like usual there are loads of bugfixes.
Performance : Firefox 16 vs Chrome 22 vs Internet Explorer 10
As usual, we this time pitted the latest iteration of Firefox against its major contemporary rivals Chrome 22 and Internet Explorer 10 RTM. This was done on our test bed with Windows 8 x64 RTM.
Hardware Acceleration Stress Test
The performance points upwards, if you compare it to Firefox 15. However Firefox still lags behind Chrome in this GPU intensive benchmark.
Surprisingly, Chrome has regressed a bit and Firefox has gained some nice performance improvements, closing the margin between the browsers. Chrome however still bests Firefox.
The Firefox performance improvements saga however comes to a halt when it comes to Google’s v8 benchmark where the browser regresses slightly than its predecessor. Chrome on the other hand leaps even further in its latest stable release.
The scenario is quite interesting in Sunspider benchmark, where both Chrome and Firefox have gained a noticeable chunk of improvements. However Internet Explorer 10 still continues to rule this benchmark with Firefox 16 coming in a distant second.
Memory consumption benchmarks
As usual, we opened 10 intensive and commonly used tabs to check out the memory performance of the browsers. This time, Firefox has benefitted again from a quite noticeable performance boost, lowering its memory consumption by around 40 MB, while Chrome still continues to chomp off memory, although we must acknowledge there is a slight reduction in memory consumption for Chrome as well.
While there are no major new features that will be noticeable to users, the incremental garbage collector seems to boost Firefox’s performance in most of the benchmarks. Also in our usage, Firefox seemed to be a lot more responsive than its predecessor but still not at par with Chrome’s snappiness. The future releases promise to bring in much more performance and speed improvements which we anticipate eagerly along with a dedicated Windows 8 Metro version. We eagerly look forward for the upcoming releases. Let us know your thoughts on the latest Firefox.