Although 2020 is an unprecedented year, Mozilla has managed to meet its monthly release schedule for Firefox and Firefox 84 is now available for download.
While Firefox 83 brought a number of security enhancements, the highlight of the latest version, Firefox 84, is native support for macOS devices such as the new MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac mini which all run on Apple’s M1 chip. According to Mozilla, Firefox 84 launches more than two and a half times faster and web applications are now twice as responsive.
If you’ve recently upgraded to a Mac with an Apple M1 chip, you’ll need to completely exit and restart Firefox before upgrading to Firefox 84+ for the browser to work on the new architecture. Note that you can confirm whether or not you are using the Apple Silicon version of Firefox by entering “about: support” in the address bar and seeing that “Rosetta Translated” appears as “false”.
In addition to Apple Silicon processor support, Firefox 84 also deploys WebRender, which provides smoother rendering and allows applications to run at 60 fps, on macOS Big Sur, Windows devices with Intel Gen 6 GPUs, and laptops Intel running Windows 7 and 8.
Firefox for Linux is also getting a few updates, with Mozilla announcing that it will provide an accelerated rendering pipeline for Linux, GNOME, and X11 users for the first time. At the same time, Firefox now uses modern techniques to allocate shared memory in Linux, which can improve performance and increase compatibility with Docker.
Finally, Firefox 84 is the final version of the browser that will support Adobe Flash, since official Flash support will end on December 31 of this year.
The latest version of Firefox also includes a number of security and bug fixes, but Mac users with devices running an Apple Silicon chip will see the biggest performance increases by far.