Autore: ExtremeTech

It seems like Google’s Chrome browser gets all the attention these days with big developer conferences and WebKit dominating mobile, but we can’t forget Firefox. Mozilla broke Microsoft’s browser hegemony before Chrome was ever conceived. The newest version of Firefox has just been released, and it looks to make up some ground in the browser wars with better performance. There’s a Firefox 22 download waiting for you, and it won’t cost you a cent.

It might not show up in bullet point feature lists on the main Mozilla site, but Firefox 22 adds asm.js support to the stable version, and that’s a big deal. This is a new feature created by Mozilla that allows the browser to compile JavaScript to assembly code, which can then be run natively.

JavaScript runs something on virtually every website on the internet, and it’s the cause of plenty of slowdowns too. JavaScript is necessary, but it adds a significant amount of overhead when loading websites — it’s often 30 to 40 times slower than native C++ code. Mozilla’s asm.js speeds up the process dramatically, making the same JavaScript perhaps just twice as slow as native code.

Firefox with asm.js is capable of cranking away at serious 3D web apps utilizing JavaScript, WebGL, and HTML5. In May, the company showed off a version of Epic Citadel (a benchmarking demo) it had ported to JavaScript and WebGL with just a few days of work using the Emscripten development tool. This version of Epic Citadel ran entirely in the browser at HD resolutions, and did so quite well. The technology that made that possible is now in Firefox 22. It was previously only in beta and alpha builds.

Another aspect of the new version is built in Web Real-Time Communications (WebRTC) for video calls. It is now trivial to add support for video calls in web apps for Firefox. The browser is currently designed to support 1-to-1 calls, but conference calling is possible with a little extra work. NATs and firewalls may interfere with Firefox’s WebRTC implementation, but version 23 will be addressing that issue.

FF MobileWebRTC can also make file-sharing through a browser hassle-free, which is not the case with most browsers. It could enable features like drag-and-drop transfers to mobile devices, or automatic file sync without installing any additional software.

The desktop version of Firefox is getting most of the hype with this update, but the main Android build has been bumped up to version 22 today as well. The boost in JavaScript performance is nice on desktops, but it’s essential on mobile devices, which typically have much less horsepower to spare.

Firefox 22 is available on Mozilla’s site, ready to continue fighting the good fight. The new version is also in Google Play where it can be installed on almost any Android device.

Now read: Mozilla partners with Foxconn, Firefox OS tablet rumored for June launch