For the most part Mozilla’s newest Firefox browser release marks a routine, incremental, barely perceptible stability-enhancing upgrade. Unlike version 34, which rolled out a little over a month ago with Yahoo in lieu of Google as the default search option and a host of exciting features, build 35 is chiefly about quality control and maintenance.
Still, Firefox 35 does catch the eye if you dig deep enough in its toolbar, by refining the so far experimental Hello service. First unveiled in rough, beta form back in October, the stripped-to-basics Skype rival is at last ready for primetime.
A lot easier to use than before, as well as locate in the menu bar, it lets Firefox fans and followers of competing web browsers connect by video with no strings attached. That’s right, you can video call through Firefox Hello a Chrome or Opera user, and he or she will be able to answer sans turning off his browser of choice, or installing additional software. All they need to do is click on a link.
No accounts, log-ins or sharing of personal data is needed either, and the WebRTC (real-time communication) API does all the magic. Unfortunately, that’s why Internet Explorer isn’t supported by the innovative, minimalistic, always-accessible tool. But Microsoft’s working on integrating WebRTC in a future IE build, and it’s only a matter of time until Firefox Hello will bring the three most popular browsers in the world together.
The conversation model is room-based, and you can juggle more than one chat window at once. Aside from Hello, Firefox 35 introduces MP4 video compatibility for Mac OS X Snow Leopard and up, as well as the option to access the Firefox Marketplace from the Tools menu.
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