Firefox 51 arrives with warning for HTTP websites that collect passwords, WebGL 2 and FLAC support

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Mozilla today launched Firefox 51 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. The new version includes a new warning for websites that collect passwords but don’t use HTTPS; WebGL 2 support for better 3D graphics; and FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) playback.

Firefox 51 for the desktop is available for download now on Firefox.com, and all existing users should be able to upgrade to it automatically. As always, the Android version is trickling out slowly on Google Play.

Mozilla doesn’t break out the exact numbers for Firefox, though the company does say “half a billion people around the world” use the browser. In other words, it’s a major platform that web developers target — even in a world increasingly dominated by mobile apps.

Desktop

First up, Firefox 51 has added a grey lock icon with a red strike-through in the address bar for websites that collect passwords but don’t use HTTPS. Until now, Firefox has only shown a green lock icon in the address bar to indicate when a website is using HTTPS and a neutral indicator (no lock icon) when a website is not using HTTPS.

HTTPS is a more secure version of the HTTP protocol used on the internet to connect users to websites. Secure connections are widely considered a necessary measure to decrease the risk of users being vulnerable to content injection (which can result in eavesdropping, man-in-the-middle attacks, and other data modification).

Here’s the new indicator:

firefox_http_passwords

Clicking on the “I” icon will display the text “Connection is Not Secure” and “Logins entered on this page could be compromised.” Eventually, Firefox will display the struck-through lock icon for all pages that don’t use HTTPS, to make clear that they are not secure and to push developers to adopt HTTPS.

Google has similar plans for its next browser update; Chrome 56 will mark HTTP sites that transmit passwords or credit cards as non-secure. The company also plans to roll out the warnings to all HTTP sites in the future.

Next up, Firefox 51 has gained support for WebGL 2. The company has been working on this for a long time, and it’s proud that Firefox is the first browser to support the new standard.

WebGL, which stands for Web Graphics Library, is a JavaScript API for rendering interactive 3D computer graphics and 2D graphics in compatible browsers without needing plugins. It allows GPU-accelerated usage of physics, image processing, and effects as part of the web page canvas, and WebGL elements can be mixed with other HTML elements on the page.

WebGL 2 allows content creators to leverage more modern accelerated rendering features, like transform feedback, expanded texturing functionality, and multisampled rendering support. It’s based on the OpenGL ES 3.0 specification, which introduces many new features aimed at increasing performance and visual fidelity.

Check out Mozilla’s latest demo (you can try it for yourself here once you’ve upgraded to Firefox 51):

Developers should note that WebGL 2 is not strictly backwards compatible with WebGL 1. Therefore, WebGL 1 code might not work as expected when using a WebGL 2 context.

Lastly, Firefox can now play FLAC files. For the uninitiated, the audio format is similar to MP3, but is lossless, meaning that audio is compressed without any loss in quality.

Here’s the full Firefox 51 changelog:

  • Users can view passwords in the save password prompt before saving them
  • Added a zoom button in the URL bar: Displays percent above or below 100 percent when a user has changed the page zoom setting from the default, lets users return to the default setting by clicking on the button
  • Improved video performance for users without GPU acceleration for less CPU usage and a better full screen experience
  • Firefox will save passwords even in forms that do not have “submit” events
  • Added support for FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) playback
  • Added support for WebGL 2, with advanced graphics rendering features like transform feedback, improved texturing capabilities, and a new sophisticated shading language
  • A warning is displayed when a login page does not have a secure connection
  • Added Georgian (ka) and Kabyle (kab) locales
  • An even faster E10s! Tab Switching is better!
  • Improved reliability of browser data sync
  • Remove Belarusian (be) locale
  • Various security fixes
  • Use 2D graphics library (Skia) for content rendering on Linux
  • Re-enabled E10s support for Russian (ru) locale
  • Updated to NSS 3.28.1

If you’re a web developer, more details are available for you here: Firefox 51 for developers.

Android

Firefox for Android didn’t get many changes in this release. Browser data sync has been improved, and a different graphics library is now used for content rendering.

Here’s the full Firefox 51 for Android changelog:

  • Added Nepali (ne-NP), Bulgarian (bg) and Kabyle (kab) locales
  • Improved reliability of browser data sync
  • Remove Belarusian (be) locale
  • Use 2D graphics library (Skia) for content rendering

Mozilla releases new Firefox versions every 6 to 8 weeks, and Firefox 52 is currently slated for early March.

Security – VentureBeat