Mozilla has jumped onto the social bandwagon with Firefox 17, its latest version of the Firefox browser. The release will mark the debut of the Social API, launching with Facebook messenger, which will allow social networking websites to add a persistent sidebar access to their sites.
The Facebook integration is bringing along two of the most vital functions of the site, notifications, and messenger. Social API had been in testing in the beta version of Firefox since Oct 22. Mozilla had been working closely with Facebook to implement the API on the latest version of the browser.
The Social API is a completely opt-in feature on Firefox where users can themselves activate Facebook Messenger by going onto the Facebook Messenger for Firefox page and click ‘Turn On.’ Once activated, a new social sidebar with chat and updates like tags and comments appear. In cases of messages and friend requests, a notification will be triggered where you can respond to the same right there from the toolbar. A new ‘like’ button has also been added to the URL bar for sharing websites that don’t have their own ‘Like’ buttons yet.
Firefox 17 comes with Facebook integration
Turning the Facebook messenger on automatically adds Facebook control buttons to the right of your location bar, and makes the status update and messenger sidebars persistent even when you're not on the Facebook site. You can control and toggle visibility using the Facebook button next to the home button on the browser.
Mozilla's chief of innovation, Todd Simpson has said that the API is an open one and that even though Facebook is a lead partner, any other social provider or other type of service can implement to the API. “We believe it will have good use for financial, news, sports, email, or things other than traditional social,” he said.
What makes the API different from the normal extension is the ease of usage. There is no requirement of any installations and is as easy as clicking onto the ‘Turn On’ button, putting an end to multiple steps required to install an extension.
Mozilla is not the first to realise the importance of social integration, with a slew of them having been around for a while, most important of the lot being Rockmelt that had Facebook integration too. However, Firefox will be different as it will allow the user to choose what Social Networking website they would like to sync with it.
The integration has raised several questions over privacy, but Tom Lowenthal of Mozilla’s Privacy and Public Policy team, assures users that nothing has changed regarding data privacy. “These pages are treated just as if you’d loaded them in another browser tab,” he says. This means Facebook doesn’t have any access to any additional information from the browser than it would have while you were logged in through the site.
Some more important changes that Mozilla has rolled out with the release of Firefox 17 is halting support to for Mac OS X 10.5 and the new click-to-play policy, which prevents vulnerable plugins from running without the user’s permission.
To read the list of complete changes to the browser, head over to the Mozilla blog.