Mozilla has released Firefox 35, and the latest version of the open source web browser has a few key new features.
The biggest is the official launch of a service that lets you make real-time voice or video calls without installing a plugin. It’s called Firefox Hello and you can start a conversation simply by clicking the Hello button in your toolbar and sending a link to anyone you want to invite to the conversation.
You don’t need to install anything other than the web browser and you don’t need to sign up for an account unless you want one.
Firefox 35 is available for Windows, OS X, Linux, and Android — and each version supports Firefox Hello… even the Android app (although the mobile experience is slow, buggy, and caused my Nexus 5 to slow down to nearly unusable speeds).
Firefox Hello makes use of the WebRTC protocol, allowing you to make calls not only to other Firefox users, but also to anyone using a browser that supports the protocol. That includes Chrome and Opera.
Mozilla has offered WebRTC support for its browsers for a while, but Hello makes it easy to actually use the feature.
Overall Firefox Hello might be one of the simplest solutions I’ve ever used for starting a video chat: you don’t need to give up your email address, social network login, or any personal information. Just share a link.
You can also sign up for a Firefox account if you want to save your contacts and other settings though.
Other updates in Firefox 35 include a new search user interface, support for H.264 video on OS X 10.6 Snow Leaopard through newer native APIs, and other improvements, as well as an option to access the Firefox Marketplace from the Tools menu or a toolbar button.
Firefox Share also now makes it easy to share web content to your preferred social networks or services including Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, Google+ or LinkedIn, just to name a few.
You have to tap the paper airplane icon in the toolbar to activate Share before it’ll work and then you have to authorize each service you want to use.