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Firefox 5 Hands-On for Windows and Android: What's New?

With its release of Firefox 5 on Tuesday, Mozilla is stepping into its rapid release development cycle, meaning that it will now be rolling out major updates for its hugely popular web browser in roughly three-month intervals. As the first release under this initiative, Firefox 5 offers little in the way of a aesthetic improvements, but does include some new key features that users and developers should find interesting. One particular item of note is the fact that the browser is being rolled out for Windows, Mac and Linux desktops as well as the mobile Android platform at the same time.

Downloading the update for both the desktop and Android platforms was the usual simple affair and took roughly 40 seconds on our office internet connection and a little over two minutes using a Droid X on Verizon's 3G network, respectively. Setup for both the desktop and mobile versions was a breeze.

Perhaps the most noteworthy change the update brings with it is the addition of Mozilla's Do Not Track feature to the Android version of the browser. Previously only available with desktop releases of the software, the Do Not Track feature allows users to opt-out of online behavior tracking. Users can toggle the feature under the mobile browser's privacy and security tab. Mozilla has also made the feature more visible for its desktop versions by placing it prominently in the browser's privacy tab located in the options menu.

In addition to adding Do Not Track, Mozilla says the release also increases browser speeds for Android users over 3G. Speeds increased slightly over previous versions and put the stock Android browser to shame, loading in 16 seconds versus 28 seconds.

While the update offers many improvements - Mozilla says there are more than 1,000 fixes for bugs and slight security improvements - Adobe Flash support on Android is still conspicuously absent. So many users will prefer the stock Android browser.

On the desktop side of things, Firefox 5 for now offers stronger support for CSS Animations, allowing developers to craft rich, interactive web pages without the use of Flash. Mozilla Hacks offers a tutorial describing how developers can use the new feature.

Stay tuned for more details and impressions on Firefox 5.