Firefox 13 Beta Adds Some Long-Awaited Updates

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We covered the recently released beta for Opera 12 last week and it was awesome. So many new upgrades and updates made it feel like an entirely new beast. Mozilla thought it time to give us a taste of Firefox 13 as well with the recently released beta adding some exciting new features for the Firefox faithful.

The first big change is what Mozilla has done to tabs. The new tab page has slots available for nine pages that will list your nine most frequently visited sites. It's a nice feature that's been a long time coming considering Chrome and Opera have had the same feature for a long time now. The new tab page isn't the only new feature for tabs though as Mozilla is introducing "tabs on demand." It's a feature that brings up all of your previously opened tabs in the same slotted tab page if Firefox ever crashes. That way you don't have to deal with Firefox trying to open all of your tabs at once. You can now pick and choose which tabs you want to open.

The other new addition is the new and improved home page. It's not really new in terms of anything major, but it does add quick links to all the important Firefox features on the default home page. So now you can access your downloads, bookmarks, history, add-ons, sync and settings all from the default home page. While I don't mind going up into the menus, I'm sure some people will find this to be convenient.

As pointed out by Wired, Firefox has integrated SPDY into Firefox for the past few versions now. It's not been set to be on by default though until this version. SPDY is a protocol that should make your Web browsing faster. There are already other advanced tweaks available to make browsing super fast in Firefox, but turning on SPDY by default should improve loading times for the average user.

The biggest batch of updates for Firefox 13 are in the developer tools though. For those that love playing around with Firefox, you're going to love these updates. The first update sees 72 changes coming to Page Inspector, HTML panel, Style Inspector, Scratchpad and Style Editor. Another big feature is the addition of ECMAScript 6 Map and Set objects support. It's currently experimental so be careful.

For the full list of updates and descriptions, check out the release notes for the beta. I highly recommend trying it out. I've been using it for a while and it seems pretty stable. It may not be the big reason to come back to Firefox, but it's the kind of thing you'll want if you've never left.