Mozilla plans four new Firefox Test Pilot Experiments

Mozilla plans to run four new Test Pilot experiments for the Firefox web browser in the coming two quarters.

Test Pilot is a relatively new system that Mozilla uses to test ideas and features, and to gather telemetry data about those features to determine whether to add these features natively to the Firefox web browser.

Not all experiments land in the Firefox browser, but we have seen Mozilla add experiments such as Containers, or Page Shot to the Firefox browser already.

The Test Pilot system is a successful addition to the Firefox development process. It gives Mozilla options to test new features, and users options to give feedback about those features to Mozilla.

Mozilla will launch four new experiments in the coming two quarters. The Test Pilot experiment Lockbox will be launched in the fourth quarter of 2017, the experiments Tabsplit, ThemesRfun and Fox in the first quarter of 2018. Note that this is subject to change and not carved in stone.

Here is a quick overview of what we know so far about the experiments:

Lockbox for Firefox

lockbox firefox

Lockbox for Firefox is a work-in-progress extension for Firefox to improve upon Firefox's built-in password management.

Lockbox is a password manager with master password support for Firefox. Firefox's built-in password manager is pretty basic (as are the password managers built-in to other browsers such as Google Chrome). You can store passwords, and have them auto-filled on websites, and protect the database with a master password.

While we do know a bit about Lockbox, we don't know anything about the three Test Pilot experiments that Mozilla plans to launch in the first quarter of 2018 except for their names.

Read also:  Firefox Classic Add-ons Archive

Here is what I think these could be about:

  • Tabsplit -- Could either be a new feature to split tabs in the browser, e.g. move tabs to a new browser window, or display multiple websites in a single tab similar to how Vivaldi offers this functionality already and Firefox's own Tab Split extensions.
  • ThemesRfun -- Something with themes. Not clear what it is. Could be something that extends Firefox's theme capabilities (which are pretty basic after complete themes are dropped in Firefox 57).
  • Foxy -- This appears to be a voice related add-on, maybe something that lets you control some of Firefox's functionality by voice?

Now You: Which experiments would you like to see?

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Mozilla plans four new Firefox Test Pilot Experiments
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Mozilla plans to run four new Test Pilot experiments for the Firefox web browser in the coming two quarters.
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Responses to Mozilla plans four new Firefox Test Pilot Experiments

  1. 420 October 27, 2017 at 10:04 am #

    I would not like to see any experimental stuff added without my consent. I feel the direction Mozilla is going is not the same direction I want to go. I have switched to Waterfox, which I had used previously and feel happy with having control back of all my browser options and privacy.

    • Fx0 October 27, 2017 at 12:20 pm #

      Please use Google or anothter search engine and search for for "Test Pilot". Nothing is added without your consent. Test Pilot experiments are add-ons and you can either install these add-ons or don't install these…

      • XaesBxb October 27, 2017 at 1:04 pm #

        Yeah, sure. Say it to "page shot" add-on, wait, isn't built in core feature?

      • Michal Stanke October 27, 2017 at 3:09 pm #

        XaesBxb: That's how the Test Pilot works. As part of this program, people willing to contribute their time and feedback use the experiments to give Mozilla change to evaluate the features benefit. If the features are used by many people and got good feedback, they got polished and integrated (Test Pilot -> Firefox Screenshots, but technically it's still and add-on to not slow the Firefox core). If they are not used by massed, they are made available as a regular add-on (No More 404, Multi-Account Containers). It's similar to using beta or development versions of any kind of software.

  2. Appster October 27, 2017 at 10:26 am #

    How is the Cliqz spyware experiment going?

    • Anonymous October 28, 2017 at 11:13 pm #

      Out of topic. The Cliqz 1% of German users thing is a Funnelcake thing, this is about Test Pilot and those are opt-in.

  3. Ancientbriton October 27, 2017 at 12:35 pm #

    Keep hammering in those coffin nails Mozilla.
    Now Firefox users are going to be treated to potentially buggy 'features' that they will test and get their usage data collected as an added kick in the teeth.
    I'm sick of companies who use their customers/users as a source of unpaid labour to test their software and save themselves the effort and expense of doing properly themselves.
    Mozilla, despite all their lofty talk about privacy and freedom, are now no different to Microsoft, Apple, Google etc.

    • Michal Stanke October 27, 2017 at 3:04 pm #

      Test Pilot program is intended for users who want to contribute by their basic usage data and send feedback about the features. It's something similar like using beta or development versions. If you do not want to contribute via Test Pilot, noone forces you.

      • gh October 27, 2017 at 6:54 pm #

        I'm saddened to see ignorant (uninformed) posters here criticizing Mozilla's attempt to conduct ABOVEBOARD, OPT-IN W/ INFORMED CONSENT testing. As Michal mentioned, TestPilot participation is opt-in. User must clicky CHOOSE to install a TestPilot item.

      • Jason October 27, 2017 at 10:24 pm #

        @gh: Mozilla's own behaviour is directly responsible for people making misinformed complaints here. For evidence of this, see the Cliqz experiment. Also have a look at various internal settings like network.allow-experiments being set to "true" by default. Does it really surprise you that a lot of people are having trouble distinguishing between Mozilla's "good" experiments and their "bad" ones?

      • Appster October 27, 2017 at 10:29 pm #

        @Jason: Perhaps you didn't notice... Mozilla is silently bundling(!!!) Cliqz with 1% of new installs in Germany. There is no opt-in involved. When you are unlucky you get the spyware without being asked for permission.

      • Jason October 27, 2017 at 10:51 pm #

        @appster: yes, that's what I was alluding to. My point, if it wasn't clear, is that Mozilla *does* engage in some shady forced experiments.

      • Appster October 27, 2017 at 11:12 pm #

        @Jason: I see. Note to self: Shouldn't write comments when tired and bereft of full clearness of mind.

      • www.com October 30, 2017 at 1:21 am #

        > I'm saddened to see ignorant (uninformed) posters here criticizing Mozilla's attempt to conduct ABOVEBOARD, OPT-IN W/ INFORMED CONSENT testing. As Michal mentioned, TestPilot participation is opt-in. User must clicky CHOOSE to install a TestPilot item.

        Agree. Sounds like you have to actively participate in it. I have no problem with it as long as it's above board and people have a way to opt-out of it.

        Those that go around complaining all the time have nothing better to do with their lives.

  4. Anonymous October 28, 2017 at 10:50 am #

    All four experiments sound interesting.

    I would possibly use TabSplit and take a look at ThemesRfun.

    TabSplit coupled with Containers would essentially be several browser instances displayed on screen at the same time, in more convenient (only one window and UI). Very useful, assuming TabSplit is about displaying several tabs in a single Firefox window.

  5. kstev99 October 29, 2017 at 2:34 am #

    I wish they would bring back Panorama (aka Tab Groups) It was very popular and they just dropped it. Most of the Webextension Add-ons are pretty lame in comparison to the old XUL versions.

    It is sad to see once great add-ons reduced to a shell of what they once were. the API's are improving though, and hopefully soon many of them will have the capability that they don't now have. I'm currently using a couple of the Test Pilot addons and I like trying some of the new possible future Firefox features

  6. Chris October 29, 2017 at 8:35 pm #

    I look forward to Lockbox. I've started using Keepass recently, but it's not really ingrained yet, and something well integrated into the bowser might be nicer. (I have avoided using Keepass-tied browser extensions out of - perhaps misplaced - fear that they could be vulnerable.)

  7. FFgh October 30, 2017 at 5:11 pm #

    I would like .mht and .maff support. instead of these things.

  8. coakl October 31, 2017 at 11:29 pm #

    Testpilot URL is an allowed site exception in the setting for Block sites from installing add-ons to Firefox.
    By default, you are opted-in to Testpilot. I just noticed it on FF 56; it may have been there in earlier versions.
    I deleted it.
    I'm not a crash-test dummy.

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