Following the release of Firefox 21 juts two days ago, Mozilla on Thursday announced updates to its Firefox Beta channel, which is now on version 22, on desktop as well as Android. The former now has gained a lot of big features, including WebRTC enabled by default, while the latter has gained small improvements, including the full tablet UI on smaller devices.

Firefox Beta 22 for Desktop

Let’s take a look at the new desktop beta first, available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. The biggest addition by far is full WebRTC support (preliminary support arrived in Firefox 18), which is now turned on by default.

For those who don’t know, WebRTC is an open source project that lets developers integrate Real-Time Communications (RTC) across the Web, whether on websites or across mobile web apps. The components DataChannels and PeerConnection, the remaining components that have been enabled out-of-the-box, along with GetUserMedia enable the Web with RTC capabilities including video calls and file-sharing between browsers.

If that sounds like a bunch of mumbo jumbo to you, just check out this demo of a video chat between Chrome and Firefox. Both browsers can communicate with each other without a third-party plugin.

Next up is the addition of OdinMonkey, an asm.js optimization module for Firefox’s JavaScript engine that lets developers to deliver gaming performance on the Web without the need for plugins. If you haven’t seen the demo yet, you’ll definitely want to see what Mozilla did to showcase this by porting Epic’s Unreal Engine 3 to the Web:

Other additions include HiDPI support for Windows (Firefox beta now follows Windows’ display scaling options to render text larger on high resolution displays), Web Notifications API (lets developers create simple notifications for Web apps to alert users of a specific event) and a font Inspector (lets developers see what fonts are being used on a specific Web page, and make adjustments).

For more details on what else is new in Firefox beta, here are the release notes:

  • NEW: Windows: Firefox now follows display scaling options to render text larger on high-res displays.
  • NEW: WebRTC is now enabled by default!
  • NEW: Mac OS X: Download progress in Dock application icon.
  • NEW: HTML5 audio/video playback rate can now be changed.
  • NEW: Social services management implemented in Add-ons Manager.
  • NEW: asm.js optimizations (OdinMonkey) enabled for major performance improvements.
  • CHANGED: Improved WebGL rendering performance through asynchronous canvas updates.
  • CHANGED: Plain text files displayed within Firefox will now word-wrap.
  • CHANGED: For user security, the |Components| object is no longer accessible from web content.
  • CHANGED: Improved memory usage and display time when rendering images.
  • CHANGED: Pointer Lock API can now be used outside of fullscreen.
  • DEVELOPER: CSS3 Flexbox implemented and enabled by default.
  • DEVELOPER: New Web Notifications API implemented.
  • DEVELOPER: Added clipboardData API for JavaScript access to a user’s clipboard.
  • DEVELOPER: New built-in font inspector.
  • HTML5: New HTML5 and elements.
  • FIXED: Scrolling using some high-resolution-scroll aware touchpads feels slow (829952).

Firefox Beta 22 for Android

While this release is clearly centered around WebRTC, Firefox for Android isn’t getting the feature in this release. That being said, Mozilla is promising to support WebRTC for Android in the near future.

In the meantime, Firefox beta for Android has the following release notes:

  • NEW: Smaller tablets will now get the full tablet UI.
  • CHANGED: Improved WebGL rendering performance through asynchronous canvas updates.
  • CHANGED: Plain text files displayed within Firefox will now word-wrap.
  • DEVELOPER: CSS3 Flexbox implemented and enabled by default.
  • DEVELOPER: New Web Notifications API implemented.
  • HTML5: New HTML5 and elements.

Mozilla is planning to release Firefox 22 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android in the last week of June. We’ll keep you posted.

Top Image credit: T. Al Nakib