I have been using Firefox 3.0 for a bit now, both in the betas, release candidates and now the final version since Tuesday. In this mini review I want to give it an unequivocal, if cliche, two thumbs up. If you have not grabbed the newest version you can do so here.
Not to sound like marketing firm for Mozilla, the non profit behind the Fox, I have found the version 3 is the best browsing experience in my many years of using the World Wide Web (I have used the Web way back to the Lynx and Mosaic days). Some things I like...
Your Actual Favorites
To be honest I don't use web browsers' favorites or bookmarks features. Ever since address bars started using autocomplete I really have bothered with bookmarking. Plus, there are so many ways today to go back to sites you find (Delicious, stumble upon, etc). Yet FireFox 3 adds a fun little feature which creates a list of you "Most Visited" sites - this little list reveals what, in fact, are you actual "favorites" - For me it is Facebook, Acts 29 Members Forum, My Blog Control Panel and Yahoo Mail (my wife's primary account where all our recent real estate correspondence is happening). Of course these are sites I go to with the browser not the ones I read through RSS. But it is cool to see what sites you visit most.
Awesome Bar - Yes, it is Awesome
FireFox 3 introduced something with what I thought was a cheesy name. The "awesome bar" is an interface improval which combines the address bar and search bar together in a cool way. The size of search and address fields are resizable with the mouse and allows you to click on a Favicon for site information - very cool. Also it searches your recent browsing history in an intelligent way, dropping a graphically pleasing list of sites based on the letters you type. It is like a smarter, more intuitive "auto complete" - So I don't think the name is cheesy any longer...I think the awesome bar is, well, awesome.
Ever ask your browser to save userID and password information only to see that your login was wrong? Happens to me quite a bit. Well Firefox allows you to save the password info even after you see that the login was successful - very, very well done and practical.
Forward and Back
The new way in which the browser handles forward and back is a bit different in that there is only one drop down list showing you the history of the sites you visited. However, as you mouse down the list an arrow appears showing you whether this is forward or backward in your recent history - very efficient and elegantly implemented.
Save all those open tabs
When you close the browser, either on purpose or if it happened to choke on some badly code web site, you can rest assured that the tabs you had open will come back to you. When you close the browser you can select the option to "Save and Quit" which will reload the tabs and state of the browser upon the next launch. If the browser crashes, the tabs open prior to the crash will load again nicely. I use this all the time as I open stuff in tabs I want to go back to later to read, or blog about. There is also a new "Re-open Recently Closed Tabs" feature under the history menu for the times when you click the little "X" on a tab accidentally. You can reload it no problem. Tabs were an innovation FireFox brought to the browsing world...their handling tabs just leaped forward with Version 3.0.
Speed - Yes, believe the hype...it is very fast and responsive in loading pages. Apparently they fixed the memory leaks from Version 2.0 which would slow a machine down if FireFox were leaft open for long periods of time.
You can check out all the new features on the Firefox site - I haven't used the new "tagging" feature but that looks to be sweet as well. The features I already loved stay nicely available too. Here I am thinking of integrated field spell check and helpful right click menus for bloggers (Copy image, Copy image location, Copy Link, Copy Link location) are all still there. Additionally, all the add-ons should be available soon as well.
If you are a casual user you will like the new Fox. If you are a blogger or power user you need to stop internet exploring or going on safari and use FireFox 3.0 - you will not be disappointed.