Firefox 14 Launches, Now Encrypts Your Google Searches By Default

Mozilla today launched Firefox 14, the latest version of its popular browser. As usual, this new version doesn’t introduce any major new interface redesigns or other radical changes, but it does come with a number of welcome new features that should make the browsing experience a bit more pleasant and safer. The most interesting change from a user perspective is probably that Firefox now automatically uses a secure HTTPS connection for all your Google searches using the location bar, search box and right-click menu. This should make searching with Firefox safer on public and shared WiFi networks. According to Mozilla, “Google is currently the only search engine that allows Firefox to make your searches private, but we look forward to supporting additional search engines with this feature in the future.”

With this release, Firefox users can now also configure their browser to only load plugins on click. This opt-in activation of plugins does take a change to Firefox’s about:config page, however, so it’s not something the Firefox team thinks is quite ready for primetime just yet. Mozilla promises that one of the next versions of the browser will offer a more complete integration of this feature.

Mac users will be happy to hear that Firefox 14 now supports native full screen browsing for OS X Lion. While Firefox always featured a full-screen mode, this wasn’t integrated into Lion’s native ability to run apps full screen, though. The advantage of Firefox’s old approach, however, was that you could still use a second screen while in full-screen mode. This isn’t possible using Lion’s native full-screen mode.

For developers, this new version includes a new API that can prevent displays from going into sleep or screensaver mode, as well as a pointer lock API that gives developer the ability to hide the cursor and lock it to just the browser screen, for example. This may sound like a minor feature, but is actually quite useful for games and 3D apps.

The full release notes are available here.