Mozilla launched the three new Firefox Test Pilot experiments Page Shot, Min Vid and Tracking Protection today on the official site.
The main idea behind Test Pilot is to showcase and test features that may one day be integrated into Firefox if feedback is positive.
The new system offers several advantages over how features were previously introduced and tested in Firefox.
Previously, new features were only discussed on Bugzilla and internally, before they landed in Firefox Nightly. This meant that they landed as code in Firefox already -- on the nightly channel -- which meant that it was harder to remove code again.
Also, new features were not necessarily showcased when they were launched which meant that Mozilla might not have gotten a lot of feedback about them, and that users were surprised when they landed in Firefox Stable because of that.
With Test Pilot, features come as add-ons that users may install and remove at any time.
Page Shot adds an icon to Firefox's main toolbar that you can click on at any time to switch to an edit interface. This enables you to draw a rectangle around content that you are interested in and want to take a screenshot of.
The feature does not support scrolling with the mouse, but you may use the keyboard to take a screenshot of a larger area.
You cannot scroll on the page while drawing the rectangle but you may do so inbetween drawing phases.
The add-on uploads the screenshot automatically to the Mozilla operated pageshot.net website.
There you may download it to the local system, use share options to share it on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest, share it using email, or copy a link pointing to the capture.
Last but not least, you may trash the screenshot there at any time, or change the automatic expiration interval from 14 days to another such as 10 minutes, 2 months, or indefinitely.
All screenshots are obfuscated by cryptic URL strings followed by the site the screenshot was taken on.
Verdict: The feature is not designed for local use but for sharing. So much is clear when you consider that all screenshots are uploaded to the Pagenet website automatically with no option to prevent that.
If you like to watch videos while using your computer and browsing the Internet, you may find MinVid useful. The experiment adds options to videos to play them in a small popover window while you navigate to other sites using the browser.
Basically, what you do is move the mouse over the video area. If the site is supported, you should see an overlay icon that you can click on to launch a small popover window for that video.
You may switch to other tabs in the browser and will notice that the video continues to play in the foreground in its small window.
The mini player offers controls that you may use to pause the video, change the volume, load it in a new tab, or close it.
The option won't work across windows though so keep that in mind.
Verdict: MinVid's implementation has a couple of issues currently. Videos may play at the same time for instance, and there is no option to continue on to the next video. It is probably better to use a third-party program or even a custom sized browser window to play YouTube videos while you are doing something else on the computer. The only situation where the feature may be useful in my opinion is when the screen is not large enough for that.
Tracking Protection is the name of the third and final experiment that Mozilla added to Test Pilot today.
Firefox ships with a Tracking Protection feature since version 39 of the browser, but it is enabled only in private browsing mode.
This experiment enables Tracking Protection outside of private browsing mode. It visualizes the mode with a shield icon in Firefox's address bar.
A click on the shield displays information about the current page, a toggle to enable or disable Tracking Protection for the site, and to give feedback to Mozilla. The two options provided allow you to inform Mozilla that Tracking Protection works well on the site and does not cause accessibility issues, or that there is a problem because of Tracking Protection.
Verdict: The feature seems to work really well. The downside is that you don't get a lot of options to control what is being blocked or allowed. While some users may like that, others might prefer a more granular approach to blocking elements on a site. The feedback integration is an excellent way however to improve Tracking Protection.
Now You: Do you find any of the experiments appealing?
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