If you’ve already downloaded the new Firefox 4 today, the first you probably noticed is how much zippier it is. I pretty much had stopped using Firefox altogether because of the creekiness of its previous versions compared to Chrome, Safari, and IE9. But the new Firefox 4, which Mozilla claims is 6 times as fast as before, puts it back in the same pack at least as the rest. It’s been downloaded nearly 2 million times as of this writing (check the counter for more up-to-the-second numbers).
I’m sure there are plenty of benchmark tests that show one browser is faster than the other, and vice versa, but my initial reactions after playing around with Firefox 4 today and comparing it side by side with Chrome is that it is just as fast if not faster. It depends on which website I visit. TechCrunch, for instance, loads a second or two faster by my stopwatch. Without the stopwatch, I can’t tell the difference. And that’s a good thing for Firefox, because speed is my No. 1 requirement for a Web browser. Nothing else is nearly as important. Sluggishness pushes users away. So that’s fixed.
Firefox also supports all sorts of HTML5 and other modern Web apps. If you want to check some out, go to its Web O’ Wonder page where you can test 360-degree videos, animations, in-browser games and other highly graphic apps. You can se emost of them on Chrome as well, but these are tuned especially for Firefox 4. The360-degree video, for instance, looks much better in Firefox and the panning around is much smoother. But there are plenty of HTML5 apps that look better in Chromeor Safari, so don’t let canned demos sway you.
The new Firefox also has some new security features like a Do Not Track option for online ads, lets you sync tabs and browsers across to mobile browsers, and makes it easier to group tabs and see all open tabs in a thumbnail view. I don’t know if the speed and other features are enough to make me want to come back. I’ve got everything set up on Chrome so nicely and I am a creature of habit. But if Chrome starts acting up or crashing my browsers, it’s nice to know I’ve got plenty of other options—and Firefox is once again on that list.