Waterfox 55 news: Android app, continued legacy add-on support
Waterfox 55.0.1 is out and with it come important announcements about the future of the web browser that is based in large parts on Firefox code.
Probably the most interesting bit of news for users of the browser and Firefox users who need continued support for legacy add-ons is that Waterfox will continue to support legacy add-ons.
Mozilla plans to throw legacy support over board in Firefox 57, and has started to remove bits of code already from current versions of Firefox.
Waterfox's developer plans to keep these code bits in the browser to guarantee continued support for legacy add-ons. Additionally, Waterfox's website will be updated and an add-on store of its own will be launched.
This is an important step, as Mozilla blocks legacy add-on uploads to the official Firefox AMO website. Without support for an independent store, new legacy add-ons can not be distributed easily.
It remains to be seen how this fragmentation of the Firefox add-on landscape, both for legacy add-ons stores and Mozilla AMO, will pan out for the user base.
Waterfox highlights full add-ons -- read legacy add-ons -- on the about:addons page in the new version "in preparation for continued support".
Another important change of Waterfox 55 is that the browser uses its own profile now. It picked up Firefox profiles automatically before, but starting in Waterfox 55.0.1, Waterfox uses its own profile directory where it migrates all existing profile data to.
The location of the Waterfox profile directory is as follows:
- Waterfox profile directory on macOS: ~/Library/Application Support/Waterfox
- Waterfox profile directory on Linux: ~/.waterfox/
- Waterfox profile directory on Windows: %APPDATA%\Waterfox
This is important as well, as Mozilla introduced changes in Firefox 55 that broke profile backwards compatibility. What this meant basically is that Firefox users who install version 55 of the browser can't go back anymore to an earlier version or Firefox ESR as the profile is incompatible with older versions.
The developer of Waterfox revealed that an Android version of Waterfox would be released in the coming weeks.
Last but not least, he revealed core differences between Firefox and Waterfox. Some of the more important ones are:
- Removed Pocket, Telemetry, data collection and startup profiling.
- Removed Sponsored Tiles on new tab page.
- Allow running of 64-bit NPAPI plugins.
- Allow running of legacy add-ons and unsigned browser extensions.
- Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) is disabled by default.