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.

ff hello

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.

ff hello_02

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.

ff hello_03

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.

ff share

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12 replies on “Firefox 35 introduces plugin-free video chat with Firefox Hello”

  1. I assume this only works on desktop, would he awesome if it worked on mobile

    1. According to the Wiki article on WebRTC, the standard is supported by these on Android:

      Google Chrome 28 (Enabled by default since 29)
      Mozilla Firefox 24[18]
      Opera Mobile 12
      I just tested with my wife using Chrome on her Moto G, it worked. We were in the same room, I didn’t try anything extensive.

      It’s also supported by Firefox OS and an app called “Bowser” on iOS. It failed to work when using Chrome on iOS.

  2. Firebloat 35. Blo(a)w(t)s goats and still keeps on bloating. Is this really needed as a core feature? Isn’t this the reason you made plugins available? Save your time and energy, fix your retarded UI first!

  3. The ‘share’ thing is interesting – bringing a typical mobile paradigm to their desktop product. It’s interesting they are doing the WebRTC thing on the Android client to but then Firefox has been at the fore of empowering its mobile client.
    I think that might be the next battle ground which nobody is talking about yet.
    Microsoft is doing Spartan – which everyone mentions is more like Firefox or Chrome, and now they’ve also mentioned that they feel it might be the browser for the mobile version of Windows 10 particularly and also available on the full desktop version.
    If that is correct then it could well be a huge salvo across the bows of Chrome, Firefox and even Safari. Microsoft, assuming Spartan isn’t gimped on the mobile product, could be the first major vendor or bring a mobile browser with a more full feature set as typically found on the desktop.
    That’s inevitable of course. But when it happens, and the mobile hardware is capable of supporting it well, then I think it will herald a bit of a sea change. The only real difference in efficacy then between desktop and mobile OS systems will be that the launcher systems on most mobile OSs aren’t geared toward keyboard and mouse use.
    To clarify – if I could use full Chrome browser on Android and if Android had decent support for a mouse and keyboard, then why wouldn’t I use Android as well as Windows for a desktop OS?
    The obvious answer is multi-window multi-tasking. But this is already implemented by a few Android instances of course. Typically as a tiling window interface by Lenovo and Samsung and probably others as well. If the hardware was capable its clear Android could do multi window just fine.
    And recall too that Android now runs on x86 so the hardware isn’t really an issue either. The biggest ‘issue’ is actually probably ChromeOS and the split nature of Google’s approach. Otherwise desktop browser availability on mobile operating systems is the last real restraint from allowing Android to compete head-to-head with Microsoft on the desktop.

  4. Yay, another video conferencing system that none of my friends will be on.

    Damn Apple for making Facetime so easy to use, that you don’t even know you have it.

    1. You must have skimmed the article… you don’t need to sign up for Firefox Hello and you don’t even need to use the Firefox browser.

      The person that wants to start a call just hits a button, copies a link, and sends it to the recipient.

      They can then open it in Firefox, Chrome, or Opera, click the join button and a video window appears.

      1. I retract my complaint, this is a fantastic idea.

        I read the article, I just assumed you needed an account with them.

    2. I beg to differ, Facetime is far from being easy to use. A lot of people are having issues facetiming each other because they’re using different iOS versions. And with people unable to upgrade to iOS 8, it’s a huge problem for a huge population of people. And having meetings with Facetime is ridiculous, everybody cramming into the shot of one iPhone/Macbook. It’s 2015 and there’s still no 2+ way facetiming.

      Then there’s hangouts, confusing as f*k to get a session going, invitations and everything. In the end, people just stick to installing Skype and using Skype instead.

      1. Compatibility issues aside, I am mostly referring to how easy it is to sign up for it (or rather that you don’t even really sign up for it).

        When someone buys an iOS device, they sign up for, or sign into their iCloud account, and they are Facetime ready. They don’t even know it. They don’t even have to share their icloud username. Simply having someone’s number in their Contact list makes them reachable. Hangouts works the same way, but Google never encourages people to use or activate it.

        I hate iOS, but as a Hangouts user I am envious of how easy it is for people to be part of the services.

        The majority of my friends are Android users, but I have to coax them into joining Google+ to get them into Hangouts.

        1. Well Google could automatically enroll everyone in Hangouts and G+ and make it a non-removable part of the OS. See how well that goes over. (I think they basically tried the G+ part of that already.) I guess iOS users are happy to have Apple make decisions for them like that. Android users seem to be cut from different cloth.

        2. None of them are perfect to be sure. Skype you have to start and sign in to the app and on PCs it’s a pain and a resource hog – most of my contacts have stopped using it. Facetime of course is iOS only and so omits a huge part of the population including half my family. Hangouts is the lightest, most capable, most interoperable, auto-updates,and currently my fave but yes they need to iron out the confusing stuff, separate it from G+, and probably keep it an opt-in thing but one that is more insistent whenever you add a G account to a phone, sign in to Chrome, or use Gmail.

          Basically I think G made a ton of missteps with G+ and are still paying for it as every app associated with it still suffers by having clumsy strings attached to it.

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