Mozilla is rolling out a major update to its Firefox web browser for Android devices. In fact, Firefox 79 is the first stable release since Firefox 68 was released last summer, so it incorporates a year’s worth of updates.

The user interface has been changed with a tabs tray on the bottom of the screen instead of the top and support for grouping multiple tabs into “collections.” There’s support for performing a voice search from the address bar. And Mozilla’s Enhanced Tracking Protection is set to strict mode by default.

But if you’ve been using an older version of Firefox for Android and making use of its support for third-party add-ons, you may want to disable automatic updates… because Firefox 79 only supports a handful of add-ons.

In fact, as Android Police points out, as of late July, 2020, only 9 add-ons are supported:

  • Dark Reader
  • Decentraleyes
  • HTTPS Everywhere
  • NoScript Security Suite
  • Privacy Badger
  • Privacy Possum
  • Search by Image
  • uBlock Origin
  • YouTube High Definition

Mozilla says more add-ons should be supported in the future. But Firefox 68 supported literally thousands of third-party add-ons, which means that “upgrading” to the latest version of Firefox could kill functionality for some users.

This isn’t a huge surprise to folks who’ve been keeping an eye on development of the open source web browser. Mozilla has been testing many of the changes incorporated in Firefox 79 in Firefox Preview and Beta browsers that had been available as separate downloads. But now that those changes are being incorporated into the stable version of Firefox, it means that more users are likely to get all the new features… and have support for extensions and other add-ons severely restricted.

If you’d like to avoid an automatic update, you can follow our guide for disabling Android app auto updates.

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  1. Having automatic updates turned off doesn’t help. Firefox will still install the 79 update without your permission. Worse, version 79 secretly adds Wikipedia, Google, EBay, Bing and Amazon tracking browsers, slowing your system down, again without telling you or giving you an out. Even if you can disable them (they can’t be deleted), Firefox restores them at the next startup. I’m going elsewhere.