Firefox Beta is the build for those who like a little bit of jeopardy, but who don’t want to risk everything by trying out Firefox Aurora, the early alpha build of Firefox. Firefox Beta gives you a sneak peek at the next version of Firefox six weeks ahead of its final release, offering a relatively stable build that’s not quite ready for primetime, but still pretty solid.
Whereas Firefox Aurora installs as a completely separate application alongside your existing Firefox installation, Firebox Beta will replace the stable build. Should you subsequently wish to go back to the safer version, you’ll need to manually download the stable version and install it over the top of the beta build.
Confirm which build you have by selecting About Firefox from the Firefox menu or button (it’s inside the Help menu if using the Firefox button).
Firefox 18 is now in the Beta channel.
The most visible new feature in version 18 is simply that the inline PDF viewer has been switched back on by default. This allows users to view PDFs within the browser page without having to install a third-party plugin from the likes of Adobe. It’s been in the works for a number of months now, so we’ll hold off on the champagne, although its appearance in the beta channel suggests it might be approaching primetime release at last.
Mac users will also be pleased to see that Firefox 18 also supports Retina Displays on OS X 10.7 and above, while developers will be interested to learn that preliminary support for WebRTC has also been implemented, although the DOM Tree Live Preview feature previewed in Firefox 18 Aurora hasn’t made it through to beta.
Finally, users should also notice performance improvements when switching tabs as well as better image quality overall thanks to a new HTML scaling algorithm.
To keep an eye on what's planned in Firefox 18 and whether or not the features have landed yet, check the Features/Release Tracking page.