While Firefox 15 isn’t due to launch until August 29, the latest version is already available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. You can grab it now from Mozilla’s FTP servers here: ftp.mozilla.org/pub/mozilla.org/firefox/releases/15.0.

If you prefer to wait for the official launch, keep your browser pointed to firefox.com. You may also want to check out the Mozilla blog, which is bound to have an announcement soon.

The biggest addition in this release, in my opinion anyway, is the revamped updating system. The new feature means Firefox will download updates in the background, apply them, and switch to the latest the next time the browser starts up. This effectively eliminates the “Firefox Update” dialog that gets in your way with the message “Firefox is installing your update and will start in a few moments…”

Does that sound familiar? It should, because that’s exactly how Google Chrome operates. Mozilla’s browser will now update as silently as Chrome does, or at least that’s the plan. We’ll see what happens when Firefox 15 security fixes get pushed out, and more importantly, when Firefox 16 hits sometime next month.

There’s no official Firefox 15 changelog as of yet, but the beta changelog should serve as a decent guideline:

  • NEW: Preliminary native PDF support (Aurora/Beta only).
  • NEW: Support for SPDY networking protocol v3.
  • NEW: WebGL enhancements, including compressed textures for better performance.
  • CHANGED: Optimized memory usage for add-ons.
  • DEVELOPER: JavaScript debugger integrated into developer tools.
  • DEVELOPER: New layout view added to Inspector.
  • DEVELOPER: The CSS word-break property has been implemented.
  • DEVELOPER: High precision event timer implemented.
  • DEVELOPER: New responsive design tool allows web developers to switch between desktop and mobile views of sites.
  • HTML5: Native support for the Opus audio codec added.
  • HTML5: The  element now supports the media attribute.
  • HTML5: The

Actually, the fourth point is also worth underlining. Mozilla developer Nicholas Nethercote has the details on his personal blog: Firefox 15 plugs the add-on leaks.

We will update you with more information (including the official changelog) when Firefox 15 officially launches tomorrow.

Update: Firefox 15 is now officially out. Get it from firefox.com. Also, Firefox for Android has been updated, with a specific focus on tablets.

Back to the desktop version. As already mentioned above, Mozilla says this release reduces memory usage when using certain add-ons, making browsing smoother and more responsive. There’s also a new JavaScript Debugger that developers can use over a local network to remotely debug apps running on Firefox for Android, for example. The new version introduces support for compressed textures, allowing video game developers to take full advantage of video memory, and makes animations smoother with an improved JavaScript engine and enhancements to WebGL.

Without further ado, here’s the official changelog for Firefox 15 (remember, the list above is for the beta):

  • NEW: Silent, background updates.
  • NEW: Support for SPDY networking protocol v3.
  • NEW: WebGL enhancements, including compressed textures for better performance.
  • CHANGED: Optimized memory usage for add-ons.
  • DEVELOPER: JavaScript debugger integrated into developer tools.
  • DEVELOPER: New layout view added to Inspector.
  • DEVELOPER: High precision event timer implemented.
  • DEVELOPER: The CSS word-break property has been implemented.
  • DEVELOPER: New responsive design tool allows web developers to switch between desktop and mobile views of sites.
  • HTML5: Native support for the Opus audio codec added.
  • HTML5: The
  • HTML5: The  element now supports the media attribute.
  • FIXED: Focus rings keep growing when repeatedly tabbing through elements (720987).

Now for a demo. The video below shows Firefox’s new gaming enhancements:

Image credit: stock.xchng