The latest update to Mozilla’s Firefox browser for Android has arrived, bumping the version number to 59 and building on a number of improvements made in prior updates. It goes without saying that the update includes a number of unspecified bug and security fixes as well but there’s at least one major enhancement that’s been made to secure users’ privacy. When browsing in Private mode, the browser will now remove path information from referrers in order to prevent cross-site tracking. For those that aren’t already aware, a referrer is data taken from an HTTP header field in order to identify the source of a link on the internet. Removing path information should prevent websites from tracking where the traffic comes from. That, in turn, should make it more difficult to track user movement from site to site, even if the user happened to sign into the site where the link was clicked.
Firefox can also now be used to search in place of Google’s Assistant via a long-press on the home button. The feature only works on Android 7.1.1 (Nougat) and up, so this won’t necessarily work for everybody. However, accomplishing that is easy enough. For Android 7.1.1 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 – for some unnamed reason – users need to navigate to the Default Apps menu in the Settings app. After scrolling to find and tap the “Device assistance app” option, users simply need to tap the Firefox option. For Android 8.1 devices, in the Settings app, users need to tap Apps & Notifications, followed by the Advanced menu. From there, the process is identical to that of the older OS version except the “Device assistance app” option has been relabeled as “Assist & voice input.” The same steps can be followed to switch the option back to Google Assistant. Another big change with version 59 is the inclusion of support for HTTP Live Streaming playback. The change should enable compatibility between the browser and some video sites. Meanwhile, users will notice that those videos they view in full-screen mode will be locked in landscape mode.
Finally, but perhaps importantly, the About Firefox page for the browser is now buried fairly deep in the menus for the app – requiring a minimum of four taps. With the update, users can now type in “About:Firefox” to access pertinent information about the browser and what sets it apart from other apps. That includes release notes, privacy policies, support, and FAQ, as well as other information of that type.