Another six weeks, another Firefox version. This time around it’s Firefox 17 that has hit the stable channel. As has become the norm since Mozilla implemented its rapid release schedule in 2011, this version introduces a couple of larger features alongside a handful of small ones. Let’s jump right in.

Enlarge / Apps that are aware of Firefox 17’s Social API can hook into the browser to enable persistent functionality even if you aren’t on the service’s website.

Firefox 17’s banner feature is a new Social API which is sort of similar to the search API that allows different services to use Firefox’s search box. The only service that currently plugs into the social API is Facebook Messenger, but anyone can leverage the API. Navigating to the Facebook for Firefox page while running Firefox 17 and clicking the Turn On button will enable a persistent sidebar in your Firefox window that shows you your Facebook chat list as well as your outstanding notifications. Pop-up notifications will also appear in the lower-right corner of your screen.

The Facebook Messenger app adds Facebook buttons and a persistent sidebar to your browser window.

Also new is what Mozilla is calling “Click-to-play plugins.” If the user is using outdated versions of plugins like Flash, the browser will no longer play content that uses those plugins by default. Users must manually click the content to get it to play and are also offered an update link that will attempt to find and install a newer version of the affected plugin if it exists. A plugin icon next to Firefox’s “Awesome Bar” will also show the user more information about the disabled plugins in question.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

via Ars Technica » Technology Lab