Firefox 4 Beta Offers 3D Graphics Support
While Internet Explorer is the leading web browser in the world in terms of marketshare, Mozilla’s Firefox was the first real option people had if they wanted to avoid Microsoft’s IE. For this reason and also because it was fast and stable, Firefox soon became the second best known browser in the world. Knowing how a lot of systems ship with Windows on board and Internet Explorer as default software for browsing, you could say that it’s impressive just how much market share Firefox has managed to grab. In any case, the company behind it is currently cooking the latest version, Firefox 4 that is currently in beta. The last beta release brings some pretty interesting new features.
Yesterday the most recent release of Firefox 4 beta became available for PC and laptops and it includes expanded support for 3D graphics and a revamped Firefox add-on manager. According to NewsFactor several changes were made to the mobile version of the browser as well. As Firefox’s Product Manager Mike Beltzner explained, the browser’s new 3D enhancements are based on WebGL, an open standard for accelerated 3D graphics rendering on the web. Making use of this technology people won’t have to install any kind of special plug-in. This means that developers will get to render amazing visual experiences right in the browser window.
“Firefox 4 beta now supports WebGL for most modern built-in graphics cards, making it easier for developers to create interactive 3-D games, vivid graphics, and new visual experiences for the web without the use of third-party plug-ins,” Beltzner wrote in a blog.
So let’s talk a bit more about this whole browser-based 3D thing. As Principal Firefox Engineer Vlad Vukicevic explained, 3D games, interactive product displays, shared virtual environments and much more have all become possible on the web, with the help of any modern browser that supports WebGL when previously users couldn’t get the same experience unless they did it either through their computer’s operating system or with plug-ins.
WebGL is based on Open GL ES 2.0, the exact same 3D API that was used for Android and IOS development. By implementing it in Firefox 4 beta, the company now provides a browser with support for a full set of web technologies for creating rich and exciting applications on the web. Much like any other area of technology, the web has to evolve as well, grow to be more complex and deliver more to people.
Vukicevic also mentioned that WebGL focuses on OpenGL ES 2.0 feature compatibility to ensure content compatibility with mobile devices. Ok, so enough about WebGL. What else does the new release of Firefox 4 beta offer that’s new? Also added was a Firefox Sync feature which allows users to sync address-bar history, bookmarks, open tabs and passwords across all of a user’s PCs, laptops, smartphones and other supporting devices. Users won’t even have to come up with a secret phrase or a sync key as one will be automatically generated for them.11