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Mozilla enhances private browsing with Firefox 20

Every six weeks you get a new haircut, and in the same interval Mozilla develops a new version of Firefox.

This is a good thing, since it means the browser is always getting better, whether than means faster performance, new conveniences, or new standards support. The only downside is that each time an update comes along, the browser needs a moment longer to install the new features and check that any extensions you've installed are compatible.

This time around, with Firefox 20, we get more private browsing options, a more accessible download manager, and support for WebRTC's getUserMedia function.

Before Firefox 20, when you wanted your browsing session to be private — no remembered history, cookies, or autofill entries — it was all or nothing: Either all your Firefox windows were private or none. With the update, you can now specify some regular and some private windows. This has the side benefit of letting you check multiple web accounts for the same service. For example, if you have a Microsoft login for and a different one for Xbox Live, you don't have to sign out of one to see the other.

Download messengers have been standard on all the major Web browsers for a few years, and we haven't seen much of anything new on the topic for almost as long. With version 20, Firefox adds a helpful tweak to the feature: It now lives in the browser's toolbar, meaning you'll always be able to see downloads in progress and previously completed ones. This saves you from having to open a separate windows to access your downloads.

One of the cooler new capabilities made possible by experimental web coding standards is the getUserMedia function, which first appeared in the Opera Web browser. This lets a web page use your connected webcam and microphone without the need for plugins like Adobe Flash or Microsoft Silverlight.

Finally in today's Firefox news, the Android version of the browser now runs on more devices, including the Samsung Galaxy Next, HTC Aria, HTC Legend, Samsung Dart, Samsung Galaxy Pop, and the Samsung Galaxy Q. The change means 50 million more phones will be able to enjoy the browser with no ties to large corporations.

You can read more about the new release on the Mozilla blog, and try out the free Firefox browser by heading to the Firefox download page.