Firefox 55, the latest version of the popular web browser, will get virtual reality support, joining Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge. Firefox 55 will be rolled out to users worldwide starting today. It must be noted that Firefox Nightly, the pre-release version of the Mozilla browser, already has VR support.

Firefox 55
geralt / Pixabay

WebVR is very important for Mozilla

For Windows users, WebVR on Firefox will be available on the HTC Vive or the Oculus Rift Headset. Comparatively, Chrome’s VR supports the HTC Vive, Google’s Cardboard and Daydream, and Oculus Rift.

WebVR enables VR content on browsers by transforming them into a platform which can be used to browse various VR experiences. Over the years, WebVR has been making efforts to upgrade its features. Even though major browsers have added (or have committed to add) WebVR support, for the most part only experimental builds of desktop browsers are compatible with consumer VR headsets, notes RoadtoVR.

Mozilla developers, including Vladimir Vukicevic in 2014, created the concept for WebVR. Later, Vukicevic left Firefox to join game engine maker Unity. This was at a time when Chrome was sprinting ahead of Firefox to offer VR support. Following Google, Microsoft Edge also started offering WebVR support in April, notes CNET.

WebVR is crucial for Mozilla, as the non-profit organization is looking to bounce back from its lows and prove its relevance.

The Firefox release calendar update says, “WebVR is the major platform feature shipping in Firefox 55. Firefox users with an HTC Vive or Oculus Rift headset will be able to experience VR content on the web and can explore some exciting demos.”

What’s new with Firefox 55?

Firefox 55 will also get Screenshots, a brand new feature that will allow users to click, save and share screenshots while staying on the browser. Users will be able to capture the image on their screen, whether it’s part of the screen or the entire visible page. The Screenshot feature will not be available to everyone initially, but it will be rolled out globally eventually, notes Ubergizmo.

Firefox 55 comes with various incredible features, such as quick restoration of browsing sessions even when several tabs are open. Further, users will also be able to reposition the sidebar. Speed is something that will be a selling point, as even with multiple tabs, the restoration process will be quicker, and some of the pages will not even require the reloading process.

Users with the advanced version will get two new performance upgrades, namely, “Use hardware acceleration when available” and “Set maximum content processes,” which can be set via Options > General (un-check “Use recommended performance settings”).

Looking further ahead to Mozilla Firefox 57, the company is looking to increase its speed and reach to the level of Google. CNET’s Stephen Shankland notes that even though the road ahead is tough, the propositions offered by Firefox are compelling when compared to those of other rivals. Microsoft does have Internet Explorer, but it is more interested in Edge. Apple Safari also has a noticeable share feature, but is not very popular beyond the iOS ecosystem.