Mozilla releases Firefox 19 with built-in PDF viewing

In its never-ending quest for improvement, the army of independent coders with the non-profit Mozilla Foundation (along with the organisation's in-house staff) have just released the latest version of Firefox.

Version 19 comes with a very tangible new feature for end users: built-in PDF viewing. No longer will Firefox users have to install and constantly update Adobe's external page layout plugin, Reader, or one of its many competing third-party viewers, such as those from Foxit or Nuance, to see this common type of web document.

Mozilla announced the new PDF capability in a blog post. It's a feature that's been in Chrome for more than two years, and it's a definite convenience.

But it's also more than just a convenience, as the PDF document has been used as a vector for delivering malicious software to unsuspecting web surfers. The new Firefox reader is built entirely using web-standard HTML5 and JavaScript code, and omits some of the riskier capabilities found in other PDF-reading plugins. Of course, this may mean it doesn't support all of the bells and whistles Adobe has built into its own client software, but the trade-off between simply viewing a PDF securely and having all the extras is unavoidable.

One of the biggest advantages of having PDF-viewing capability right in the browser is avoiding the need for separate updates, which seem like a weekly event with external plugins such as Adobe Reader. As with Chrome, presumably the PDF reader will be updated along with the rest of the browser as needed.

You can download Firefox 19 for free here.

Firefox for Android Expands Phone Compatibility

Mozilla also announced that Firefox for Android is now available to millions more phones, in more languages and with more personalisation. The mobile browser, which offers syncing with a users's destkop version of Firefox, now works on more Android devices using ARM6 processors, including handsets from LG, HTC, and ZTE. The added support means nearly 15 million more Android phone users will be able to install the independent browser.

The new Android version of Firefox also now supports visual themes to give the mobile browser a personalised appearance, just like the desktop browser. Finally, Firefox for Android adds support for Traditional and Simplified Chinese locales.