I was especially interested in the Voice Fill (speech recognition) technology. Landing page: https://testpilot.firefox.com/experiments/voice-fill
It seems the project is here: https://github.com/mozilla/speaktome/
This seems as if it actually is a webservice. From the code (https://github.com/mozilla/speaktome/blob/master/extension/c...), I see: const STT_SERVER_URL = "https://speaktome.services.mozilla.com";
Actually, I think this can be very easily done fully client-side, with good accuracy. Even on Android, the voice recognition can run client-side / offline.
I wonder if the project is in any way related to their DeepSpeech project (https://github.com/mozilla/DeepSpeech). Maybe they use DeepSpeech on the server-side? At some other place they call it Pipsqueak, not sure if this is yet something else.
And maybe also related is their common voice project (https://voice.mozilla.org/). Recent discussion here on HN (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14794654).
Some more information also here: https://research.mozilla.org/machine-learning/
Once DeepSpeech is ready I'm pretty sure they will switch to that, and ultimately to on-device voice recognition with PipSqueak (PipSqueak is expected to be an inference engine usable on devices). Unfortunately none of these projects are far along enough to be usable.
Common Voice is mostly related to DeepSpeech as this will help getting data to train the engine.
I'm not sure I'd say it's easy; you will certainly trade off accuracy versus a state-of-the-art server model. Among other things, Firefox users are not going to download gigabytes of recognition model, so it'd have to be a lot smaller than the server ones would be.
Very possibly it will be slower too, since the servers would most likely be using GPUs for at least parts of the recognition, but it might not be easy to ensure the same on all the millions of PCs Firefox runs on.
If I wanted voice search, file sharing and/or note taking I would find the appropriate piece of software for that task and install it separately.
All this does is increasing the attack surface of the browser in a ridiculous manner providing features that only very few will use. File-sharing? What could possibly go wrong?
And in the meantime Thunderbird, a stand-alone program that had a decent following got the axe in favor of more browser bloat.
I really no longer understand Mozilla's mission.
Also, browsers already have code to record from your microphone, due to the WebRTC web standard, so it's not like this opens an entire new class of potential vulnerabilities.
Doesn't matter. They shouldn't be part of Mozilla's output either...
The good thing is that these are all separate browser extensions, none of which are bundled by default. So that's exactly the case.
The whole idea behind test pilot stuff is to trial stuff intended for future inclusion in the main distribution, getting it force-fed to be able to claim a large installed base is the logical next step.
Really, Mozilla resource allocation is a mystery to me.
The Vertical Tabs test pilot thing was them demonstrating that it could be done (including to themselves, they need to test these APIs) and giving the community something to work with, should no other tree tab extensions crop up before the deprecation of the old API.
Except that Tab Center wasn't a way for them to test the new WebExt APIs, as it was still based on XUL. See here: https://discourse.mozilla-community.org/t/whats-all-this-abo...
>maintaining [the old extension API] ate up a crap ton of resources, so don't come up with that move being a waste of resources
Arguably not a waste if that meant preserving the most powerful extension environment out there, and also one of the very few reasons for people to stay with Firefox.
Signed: a Firefox user
If the Firefox team wanted to improve speed/security/modularity, etc. they had to ditch the old extension model.
It sucks, but necessary.
Addons based on older APIs could be made compatible with the newer multiprocess design (see https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/Add-ons/Working_with_mul... ) and for a while Mozilla tried to persuade developers to update theirs (see https://blog.mozilla.org/addons/2016/08/02/multi-process-fir... )
It was only not long after that when Mozilla's fresh direction decided to start pushing the WebExtensions bandwagon only while dropping everything else, in spite of the thousands of man-hours invested by the addon developers (many of which, you can understand, were not happy; see http://fasezero.com/lastnotice.html )
>they had to ditch the old extension model
To me, that's more like a political decision they made at an arbitrary point in time.
Thing is, if Mozilla wants to stay relevant, it has to find out what users want and deliver that. These experiments are one way to do that.
Lately I've been moving away from Google everywhere I can. I moved everything but Google Voice. Yes, even Google Search - I've moved to DuckDuckGo. On windows however, I had to fall back to Chrome, because I was just shocked at how slow Firefox was.
Opening pages like Twitch.tv proved to be shockingly slow. Furthermore, my habit of opening many tabs in the background like I do in Chrome/Safari was massively slower in Firefox because while Chrome doesn't autoplay new-hidden tabs, Firefox does - I imagine Chrome feels faster there because it's not running nearly as much stuff at once.
Pretty much everything of Firefox felt slower for me. And this is from someone that really wants to get away from Chrome! On OS X, I've long switched to Safari and DuckDuckGo, and been quite happy. I've had zero complaints about performance with Safari.
So.. I don't know what they need to do, but I'm really hoping they do something.
Personally, I dropped Chrome 2 years ago or so, for the same reasons (moving away from everything Google that I reasonably can). Firefox is more painful to use, for sure, but it's gotten "okay" enough that I'm willing to keep using it in favor of its benefits (privacy).
By the way: In Firefox, open `about:support` and check that "Multiprocess Windows" says something like "2/2 (enabled by Default", where the numbers can really be anything but 0. If it's disabled, that means your Firefox isn't using the new multiprocess support, most likely because you're running an incompatible addon.
There was also a recent post regarding having large numbers of tabs open in Firefox (see https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14823807) and it did pretty well.
However it still seems to lack in the animation department. CSS transformations and transitions, particularly if affecting complex elements, just aren't as smooth as in Chrome or Safari. Your own menu animations, like the global drop down menu, are finally fluid and smooth though.
Much more streamlined UI, and much faster. I already preferred Firefox because of better handling of large numbers of tabs, but Nightly beats Chrome even at smaller number of tabs so far (I synced my FF account so my extensions, etc got reproduced, and I manually replaced legacy ones with newer ones). I still have to see how it holds up over a period of use, but so far with my data synced it looks great.
BLAZING >>>>>>> FAST
I never really came upon a reason to leave FF behind. It works good, has all the addons, and I can still make it look like a real window with options and things where they should be. I also have a "special" relationship to Chrome due to this "bundling to freeware" they use to push the browser onto people who don't want it.
@your tab problem: I just googled this up https://addons.mozilla.org/de/firefox/addon/load-tab-on-sele... No idea how good it is though since I never felt I'd need that.
There is a solution/addon for everything ;)
Chrome/Chromium, as a recent example allowed serviceURI in Web Speech APIs for third party recognition to be plugged in. Here: https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/API/SpeechRecog...
It was dropped in Chrome 49 and we're now all stuck with using Google. There has been little coverage on this, some speculated it was hardly implemented, or was dropped because lack of a standard API format.
Whatever the case. Google / Chrome choose not to fully develop that feature and its now gone. Which ultimately works in Googles favor.
I'm not complaining because I'm locked in by Google, I've switched to Safari on OS X with no issue at all - I don't miss Chrome in the slightest. Yet, on Windows, Firefox is proving to be a hurdle.
It's on Mozilla, not Google. Imo
In addition, Chrome recently crashed on me multiple times while using Google Spreadsheet which is supposed to work better with Chrome than other browsers.
Speaking of Flash, some sites request Flash on Firefox but not on Chrome for example (although it's totally unnecessary). This is becoming less frequent recently but it shows that a lot of websites are not taking advantage of Firefox's full features as they do with Chrome (something to consider as well).
Go to about:config and set:
media.block-autoplay-until-in-foreground = true
In older versions they used another config variable media.block-play-until-visible .
There is also media.suspend-bkgnd-video.enabled to stop decoding video in background tabs after set amount of time (10s default).
I wonder if they are both the same, it's just that us users have learned different workflows based on strengths of each browser?
i have well-written code that runs very fast in FF, and it always runs even faster in Chrome. not just JS, but also repaint and layout. FF does handle some absurd cases better: giant dom trees & scrolling, RAM usage, lazy tabs.
as a long-time Firefox bug hunter and nightly user, i hope Firefox/Quantum & Servo can reverse this pattern, for sure.
Also, go to about:config, and make sure preloading is turned on. I checked it last week and for some reason it was turned off, even though I don't recall ever doing that.
They're working on it, to see the progress, install nightly (which is already a huge improvement) and turn on servo CSS for an extra boost. It feels much faster.
I've been on Firefox developer edition for awhile now, because it's just SO MUCH FASTER than chrome, especially on high tab volume.
Weird that Google products don't even seem to run the best on their own products.
Cliqz is another one I thought about trying, but it is based on Firefox so I'm a bit dismayed haha.
It has some issues with sites because of cookie storage + I believe it disables scripts - but it's really fast :)
Its not a real solution, but for twitch, which i agree is essentially unusable, ive replaced it with streamlink + mpv + a couple of scripts to notify me of who i follow is live. Twitch chat works in irc too.
Chrome and Safari just feel more "smooth and sleek", and UI elements are consistent (Look how Chrome buttons are rounded-rectangles).
The other reason I switched from FF was that Chrome has always been simply better. Sure, FF can handle many tabs, but I save that for times I want to work with Selenium or something. For an ordinary user (and even pros), Chrome just beats FF.
Can't exactly argue with your other point, since you don't explain how Chrome beats Firefox, but as many people in this thread have already said, Firefox is currently picking up a lot of speed. You can try Firefox Nightly, if you want a taste right now. Or wait until Firefox 57, which will hit stable on Nov 14.
Learning from own mistakes anyone?
"These are obviously experimental tools and there’s no guarantee they will ever make it into a release version of Firefox. Indeed, the idea behind Test Pilot is to allow the Firefox team to test new concepts."
The efforts on making Firefox faster and more responsive have been going on for a few years (e10s/electrolysis being one of them) and are appearing in the releases as fast as the team can develop, test and deliver them. I personally believe Mozilla has a highly capable core team on this, and to insinuate otherwise, to me, seems like accepting commercial interests of other browser makers as higher than FLOSS interests. I don't disagree on quality of the product being a huge aspect in value judgments, but it cannot and should not be the only one.
"Fast and more responsive" is just one aspect. Because "we're getting faster" and "these are just experiments" lead to a situation when "Browse against the machine"  uses FF for work and Chrome for play, and pretends it's ok.
In general I agree that Mozilla has lost its way with its current head count; successfully funding a company with advertising revenue tends to do that.
As an example, they tried vertical tabs, and it appears it didn't work as well as they needed it to be so it has been left out. On the flip side, the empty tab page was also an experiment, and that worked well and made it to the default browser.
These experiments are work on the browser. But instead of adding them as features, introducing them as experiments and then adding the polished, stable, feedback adjusted version as a true feature that can be marketed effectively.
Vertical tabs have never been built into Firefox.
Unsure what you mean by "they dropped it because they couldn't get it to work again" -- it was never built into Firefox.
There's only one interest in the browser wars: prevail or perish. If Firefox cannot secure a large enough market share, it will be insignificant, lose funding, and die off.
I appreciate a lot of stuff Mozilla do outside the browser for the open internet, but the development of Firefox is pretty bad and it looks like the project leaders are incompetent.
Firefox is a sad example of how a successful software can be overtaken by a new competitor within only a few years due to a lack of focus.
And due to their competitors ability to advertise on the majority of people's home page. For most people, chrome wasn't a firefox alternative, it was an internet explorer alternative.
Firefox was in need of technical improvements for some time, but they only started acting when Chrome already had a noticeable market share and that's not how you stay at the top.
No one is criticising Mozilla for coming up with Rust, yet if they didn't take the time to experiment Rust wouldn't be around.
So yeah, good on them, I'm happy for them to try voice recognition and other endeavours, who knows what they might discover?
>who knows what they might discover?
They'll discover, just like Opera, that an abundance of useless features doesn't make up for a browser that is lacking speed, security, a clear design, ease-of-use and configurability.
Coincidentally, all of the examples you mention have been a major focus for far more people within Mozilla than their experiments are, and improvements in these areas have really been noticeable if you've been using Firefox lately.
Like many others, I used Firefox for a long time despite it being technically inferior to Chrome, but at some point you say 'fuck it' and make the change.
Mozilla, given their market share, should have been first to offer 64-bit support, separate processes for tabs, sand-boxing and a lot of other stuff, but they've been asleep, because for a long time there was no strong competitor.
I've been waiting for working and full printing support something like https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2015/01/designing-for-print... for years now. Printing articles from the browser is the same pain as 10 years ago.
But yes this is not as fancy as voice search or file sharing (or their single sign on, identity and all the other failed stuff).
Mozilla has been a vehicle for people who play out their tech and political dreams and then move on. And FF is crumbling all the way.
But this misery is soon over, we're in the end game of Firefox.
(Written from FF - a browser I've used since Mosaic)
I like that they're experimenting to figure out what good usability looks like and what the next generation of "browser" should deliver. Some things should just be there when you want them...not an app you install separately or a website you go to for the functionality. I don't know if all of these new things fit that category (voice stuff probably yes, notes probably yes, large file sharing maybe?), but I know I want Mozilla to keep trying new things.
Also, if Mozillians aren't building user-facing things with the "foundation", they don't actually know what the foundation should look like for developers. You have to be a developer using the platform daily in order to understand what it does right and wrong. I don't know how they could do that without actually building things that sit atop the platform.
Given their pick it's obvious web developers would rather focus on the browsers with the most share of users.
From what I can tell their new file sharing feature is actually just a mozilla hosted web app.
Some things are too important to not at least put out a standard-bearer.
Using firefox focus on android is pretty great too. The normal firefox on android is just slow, not sure why.
Firefox on android is too slow to use a lot of times. Something mozilla should be able to do better.
Mozilla really needs to outdo themselves just to regain the market share they lost to Chrome. Compared to IE, Firefox was clearly the better browser, but it took many years just to become significant.
Are there any other Vim plugins without this issue?
Also, for anyone using 1Password, they have a beta of a multiprocess compatible FireFox extension that seems to work fine.
I've started looking for VimFx alternatives since the following doesn't sound great:
If you're looking for something simple, VimFX works, but it's too basic for me. Not sure of the future of VimFX.
I think these projects which Mozilla test/launch are an indication that even they don't know how to stop the eroding of Firefox market share.
If I were Mozilla I'd be seriously worried about Electron.
Super speedy as it uses an Android Webview and privacy focused.
Chrome cannot control, for example VS Code.
I loved the experimental home page and the Tab Center . I really hope it continues to live.
It's now a WebExtension, which means it will work in Firefox 57+ (and possibly eventually Chrome, if they end up supporting the same APIs), and uses the new Sidebar APIs that the new Notes experiment also makes use of.
If that doesn't fit your use cases, there are also quite a few new tab sidebar WebExtensions popping up that aim to replicate existing more sophisticated tab management extensions like Tree Styles Tabs (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/tree-tabs/), and others that try to innovate on their own terms, such as Sea Containers (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-GB/firefox/addon/sea-container...), which makes use of the new Containers experiment.
Overall there is a huge amount of very promising new development in the WebExtensions space, and this is exactly the kind of innovation I had hoped WebExtensions would encourage.
Looks like this: http://i.imgur.com/nhGpHYt.png
Each section can be hidden individually, so if you just want the search box or just the websites you frequently visit or don't want stupid articles recommended on your newtab-page, those are all things you can do.
Seems like they took out the recent activity thing, but no idea if this is finalized already.
PS: Whisply even has more features and a detailed description how its encryption works: https://whisp.ly/static/whisplyTechnicalOverview_20151201.pd...
It's quite nice, has integrated image and video viewers as well as a pastebin all end-to-end encrypted.
1. What's Send encrypting with? It doesn't show anything related to setting up a password during the video.
2. What's Notes syncing with?
3. What's Voice using to analyze the voice commands?
Likely a random string that is added to the download URL as Fragment (the part after # that doesn't get sent to the server).
The download URLs look like this:
I agree that there is very little explanation beyond "look at this cool thing".
Is there a browser plugin out there that provides a notes sidebar for the page you're currently on, and allows flipping through the notes with a link to the pages they relate to? Because that'd be awesome. Googling only reveals some kitschy "post-it on a web page" type note things, which is definitely not what I want.
I believe the initial inspiration for this was people asking for a place to quickly jot things down that they'll then copy over into other applications, so might be a bit awkward to get those two use-cases under one hood, but I'm sure they'll try, if the demand exists.
Iirc the speed changes can't start landing in stable until November, because of the shift to Webextensions.
Have you tried a recent Nightly? Firefox is getting faster: http://www.techradar.com/news/firefoxs-blazing-speed-with-hu... . As Mozilla continues to pull in code from Servo and implement e10s, Fiefox will perform better and crash less.
 discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14848836
As far as I'm aware, it is mostly developed by Mozilla employees, but heavily used for new devs to get their feet wet. Not only is it not mission-critical when they make mistakes there, they also get a ton of feedback on their work.
On the plus side now, I get my tabs across all my devices.
So, most of these are not here to stay for the long term.
They might be included, they might be published as an extension either officially or just forked by someone, but overall, no guarantees on anything.
But well, if it seems like a feature that people want, then it gets included into Firefox itself and stays for longer.
Then, again, I for example can't at all imagine them including that file-sending mechanism. I doubt they even have the server capacity for that...
If I was Mozilla I'd allocate programming time to catch up with Chrome now that they don't have the phone OS thing anymore, instead of creating more distractions.
They really blew it. I remember a few years ago when I used both Firefox and Thunderbird as my default browser/email client...
I'll never use it. It's completely useless to me. But if my grandma actually did anything else than Facebook on her computer I'd show this to her.
Well.. and we're just fine with it. Simple works better somethings and why be in such a hurry sometimes. I look at these young whipersnappers who fly around the computer with windows attacking from all directions. They just seem to make things complicated without actually meeting the goal any faster.
Maybe once speech recognition advances a bit more...
It's very easy to think of instances where this will be helpful.
* Mobile version of Firefox. It might be easier to talk to fill a form on mobile than type on glass screen.
* Accessibility. There is a huge under served demography of people who will welcome this as typing might be hard for them.
You may not be on any of the groups above but that doesn't invalidate the features.
It's a browser. All it should do (and do well) is display content.
I don't want a bunch of extra garbage tossed in because it sounds good on some marketing slide.
Chrome has been and continues to eat FF's marketshare alive because it has been both faster and lighter. More junk is not going to help FF beat them.
I believe Chrome got a larger market share also because it had the giant force of Google marketing it heavily on its properties for years, whereas Firefox only had some support of that sort from the Yahoo search deal (IIRC). More people land on Google's online properties than on Yahoo's.
I personally don't agree that Chrome is faster and lighter. For me (as a heavy multi-tab user) it has always been slow as molasses and a laggy browser.
So your complaint really makes zero sense.
As far i know must of these feature are implemented as extension and i don't thing webextension have the api to do a lot of thing that are in test pilot.
Also, uBlock Origin and similar are perfectly functional extensions. Takes just three clicks to install uBlock Origin on a fresh desktop Firefox installation.
If you're wanting to tell me that this content blocker should be default-enabled, good luck explaining to webpage owners that they won't make ad money off of Firefox anymore, but should still support it.
It's a pity considering a few years back I was the greatest FF fan.
Then there's the lack of compatibility with their mobile browser for extensions, so most of my extensions didn't work on Android tablets. It was definitely faster than it had been the last time I used it, but at this point, it needs to be significantly better than Chrome to win back users and it's not there except for a small group of people.
I do feel that the Voice Fill is a step in the right direction. I'd prefer that the notes application was a dedicated product with an add in that tightly integrated with the browser, a webapp in a wrapper would be fine really.