Major changes are coming to Firefox Hello, the built-in video-, audio- and text chat service of the Firefox web browser. Mozilla plans to remove the contacts functionality from Firefox Hello in version 44 of Firefox, and to change the tab-sharing functionality in Firefox 45 significantly by activating it by default.
Firefox Hello is a communication service built directly into the Firefox browser. Its current implementation supports anonymous audio, video or text chat and chat with contacts that users added to the contacts list of Firefox Hello, and options to share tabs or windows on top of that.
The service does not require plugins or extra software that is running on the user device and while that is handy for users who use it, Mozilla has been criticized in the past for integrating the feature directly in Firefox instead of offering it as an add-on.
Firefox 44: Contacts are removed from Firefox Hello
This means, basically, that you can only initiate a chat, regardless of it being audio, video or text, anonymously using links.
This works just like before through the generation of links that you need to provide to your contacts to get started. Options to send the link by email or to copy it to the Clipboard are provided.
The option to set a "do not disturb" status is removed as well because of that in Firefox 44.
Firefox 45: Tab-Sharing focus
One feature of Firefox Hello is the ability to share tabs or windows with the people you chat with. This has been an optional feature until now but plans are underway to make it the default starting with Firefox 45.
This means that tab-sharing is enabled automatically for every conversation that you start using Firefox Hello.
You do get options to pause or stop the tab-sharing, but it is unclear right now if there will be a preference to block this from being enabled in first place.
It is unclear currently why the contacts feature is being removed in Firefox 44, and why tab-sharing is enabled by default in Firefox 45. One plausible explanation would be that contacts was not used by enough users to justify its maintenance.
It is clear however that the changes will change the target audience of Firefox Hello. Personally, I don't think that it is a good idea to enable tab-sharing by default but since we don't know how many are using Firefox Hello, and how many of those use tab-sharing, it is purely based on speculation that the majority of Hello users are probably not using tab-sharing regularly.
It looks to me as if this is something that Mozilla engineers responsible for the product have created for themselves as they find it useful and less for Firefox's user base.
I could be totally off though considering that Mozilla has not revealed any stats concerning Firefox Hello. (via Sören Hentzschel)
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