With today’s release of Firefox 85, Mozilla pushed the next major release of its popular open source and cross-platform web browser, Firefox 86, to the beta channel for public testing.
While Firefox 85 introduced a couple of new privacy features, Firefox 86 promises some other cool changes, such as basic support for the AV1 Image File Format (AVIF), a powerful, royalty-free and open-source image file format designed to encode AV1 bitstreams in the HEIF (High Efficiency Image File Format) container, enabled by default.
Basic support means that advanced features like animated images and colorspace support aren’t supported at this time. AVIF support landed in Firefox a few months ago, but only now it’s enabled by default as Mozilla considers it ready for the masses. Therefor, you could enable AVIF support in previous Firefox release by setting the
image.avif.enable option in about:config to true.
The advantages of the AVIF image format are quite impressing, offering lossless compression mode, better compression than WebP, around 50% smaller sizes than the JPEG image format, animation and multi-image storage, alpha channel support for transparency, wide color gamut support, as well as HDR (High Dynamic Range) support.
In addition to the AVIF image file format being enabled by default, the upcoming Firefox 86 release also enables multiple Picture-in-Picture (PiP) support by default so you can view more than one video in Picture-in-Picture mode, Reader mode support for local HTML pages, and credit card management and autofill capabilities for Canadian builds of Firefox.
Two other interesting changes landed in Firefox 86, a small revamp of the About Firefox dialog that shows a ✓ Firefox is up to date entry and the disablement by default of the Backspace key for navigating back. I bet the latter will upset many users (including me), but rest assured that you can get it back by setting the browser.backspace_action option in about:config from 2 to 0.
If you want to give Firefox 86 a try on your GNU/Linux distribution, you can download the beta version for 64-bit or 32-bit systems right now from the official website. However, please keep in mind that this a pre-release version, not suitable for production use. The final release will hit the streets on February 23rd, 2021.
Last updated 4 months ago