Firefox 21 Aurora Adds Startup Optimization, WebRTC by Default and Three-State DNT

The latest Aurora release comes with several interesting new features

Mozilla's been busy with Firefox OS these days, which maybe explains why the latest Firefox 21 Aurora was released quietly into the wild. The newest Firefox to graduate to the Aurora channel comes with a couple of interesting new features and a few changes.

Firefox now suggests ways of improving startup times, if the browser detects that it's consistently slow to load.

The suggestions shouldn't prove too surprising to more advanced users, but should be useful nonetheless.

Firefox will suggest changing the homepage, for example, or switching on the "don't load tabs until selected" option in the Firefox preferences.

The biggest improvements should come from disabling slow extensions and themes though.

Under the hood, Firefox 21 comes with WebRTC enabled by default. Mozilla has been working on this for the past several months.

The main components of WebRTC have been ready for a while, but Mozilla is only now confident enough to enable the web communication technology for all users.

Firefox 20, now in beta, paved the way by enabling getUserMedia, one of the main components of WebRTC, by default. GetUserMedia controls access to the webcam and mic for web applications.

In Firefox 21, PeerConnection, the component that handles the peer-to-peer audio and video streams, is enabled by default as well, which should make WebRTC video and voice calls possible without any configuration by the user.

You won't find many, if any, apps making use of WebRTC yet, outside of the demos put together by Mozilla or Google, but it's a significant step.

Also under the hood, Firefox 21 comes with the new three-state UI for Do Not Track, which gives users more control than before. Previously, users could choose to enable Do Not Track or leave it be.

This on/off switch proved inadequate since the Do Not Track header has three distinct states, enabled, disabled and undecided.

Until now, Firefox defaulted to "undecided" until users chose to enable the feature. But there was no way for users to specify that they were OK with ad tracking.

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