Mozilla has released the first Firefox beta under its new rapid-release model: a program designed to ensure more frequent updates to the browser at the expense of huge, sweeping changes between new Firefox versions.
Case in point—the company just sent Firefox 5 from the newly designed Aurora development channel to the public-facing Beta channel. That means that it's available for public consumption and feedback. However, the list of new features might seem a bit scant at first, especially if one takes into account the historical jumps that have previously occurred between Firefox version numbers.
"The shift to a rapid release development cycle delivers cutting edge Firefox features, performance enhancements, security updates and stability improvements to users faster," reads the blog post announcing the Firefox 5 beta release.
The Firefox 5 beta builds a few new updates into the browser, but nothing especially monumental or Earth-shattering. Aside from the standard bevvy of enhancements to the browser's performance and standards support, Firefox 5 only really comes with two additional features of note. The first, support for CSS animations, gives web developers the ability to add a little extra flair to their pages. This could include making text slide into place across the browser or having different elements of text magically appear as different parts of an animation hit, to name a few examples.
The second big feature found in Firefox 5 specifically relates to Mozilla's rapid-release model. In this case, Mozilla's added an option to allow users to more quickly switch between one of the three main development channels in the rapid-release cycle: Aurora, a version of the browser where most proposed features are introduced (and an iteration that's much more stable than Mozilla's nightly Firefox builds); Beta, a more stable test build of the browser for public consumption; and Release, the standard iteration of Firefox designed for all users to download.
To access the feature, one need only pull up the "About" screen under Firefox's Help menu. Clicking on the "Change" link allows a user to switch to the Release, Aurora, or Beta channel—after clicking "Apply and Update," the browser automatically downloads the requested version.
So what do you, Firefox fan, need to know? Firefox 5 beta is up and ready: Although its new features might not make huge changes in your standard browsing experience, the browser beta will at least allow you to switch between Firefox variants depending on your need to have more features, or more stability, at a moment's notice