Archive for November 17, 2017

Friday, November 17, 2017

Firefox Quantum

Mark Mayo:

It’s fast. Really fast. Firefox Quantum is over twice as fast as Firefox from 6 months ago, built on a completely overhauled core engine with brand new technology stolen from our advanced research group, and graced with a beautiful new look designed to get out of the way and let you do what you do best: surf a ton of pages, open a zillion tabs, all guilt free because Firefox Quantum uses less memory than the competition. Your computer will thank you. 🙂

Via John Voorhees:

I haven’t had an opportunity to thoroughly test Firefox on my Mac, but even after opening 50 tabs on a fresh install of the browser, many of which were notoriously heavy sites, Firefox remained responsive.

I’m not sure it’s twice as fast, but it really does feel faster than previous versions of Firefox, and perhaps faster than Safari in some cases. I still prefer Safari, though, because it’s a better Mac app.

K.Q. Dreger:

If you haven’t tried Firefox since Chrome came out, or you’ve always used your operating system’s default browser, I’d encourage you give the new Firefox a shot. It’s free and I was left genuinely surprised.

Rui Carmo:

Another thing that worried me was that Firefox seems to have a larger energy footprint and was still claiming a significant percentage of CPU cycles (5-10%) while out of focus and “idle”.

Manish Goregaokar:

Rust code began shipping in Firefox last year, starting with relatively small pilot projects like an MP4 metadata parser to replace some uses of libstagefright. These components performed well and caused effectively no crashes, but browser development had yet to see large benefits from the full power Rust could offer. This changes today.

Firefox Quantum includes Stylo, a pure-Rust CSS engine that makes full use of Rust’s “Fearless Concurrency” to speed up page styling. It’s the first major component of Servo to be integrated with Firefox, and is a major milestone for Servo, Firefox, and Rust. It replaces approximately 160,000 lines of C++ with 85,000 lines of Rust.


This top-down structure is ripe for parallelism; however, since styling is a complex process, it’s hard to get right. Mozilla made two previous attempts to parallelize its style system in C++, and both of them failed. But Rust’s fearless concurrency has made parallelism practical! We use rayon —one of the hundreds of crates Servo uses from Rust’s ecosystem — to drive a work-stealing cascade algorithm. You can read more about that in Lin Clark’s post. Parallelism leads to a lot of performance improvements, including a 30% page load speedup for Amazon’s homepage.

Todd Ditchendorf:

While they’ve been inventing Rust, Firefox has lost most of its market share, completely missed mobile, & the latest Servo .app release is completely non-functional on my Mac. Meanwhile Mozilla is celebrating their greenfield research success story.

I guess it depends on what you find more important: a fantastic new programming language, or a relevant indie browser that’s not controlled by a BigCo or tracking your every move. But while there are lots of cool prog langs, there was only one relevant indie browser.

Now we have yet another cool programming language, and no relevant indie browsers.

Update (2017-11-21): Matt Birchler:

Both Apple and Google’s web apps make me feel like I’m living through the ActiveX days all over again. Firefox sadly feels like a second class citizen because of this.

HomePod Delayed

Joe Rossignol (Hacker News):

Apple today announced it has delayed the release of the HomePod until early 2018. The speaker was originally set to launch in December.

Jason Snell:

Announcing a product in June for “late 2017” suggested to me it always had a good chance of slipping. That’s a long way off.

I am still trying to figure out why they announced it so far ahead. FUD? Overconfidence?

Ryan Jones:

This is Tim Cook’s Achilles heel – he let’s Wall Street pressure get to him – he announces and ships prematurely.

  • Mac Pro
  • Watch (original)
  • MacBook
  • AirPods
  • HomePod

Apple Watch missed 2014 holidays.

AirPods missed 2016 holidays.

HomePod missed 2017 holidays.

That’s really bad, really – perfect gifts.

Update (2017-11-20): Shira Ovide:

A delayed product on its own isn’t necessarily a big deal. Sure, Apple misses a shot at 2017 holiday sales for the HomePod, but this is a long game and one holiday season doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things for the world’s most valuable public company. The troubling thing, though, is product delays or other problems are no longer unusual for Apple.

Benjamin Mayo:

When Apple announced the HomePod at WWDC in June, I couldn’t understand why they chose to show it so far in advance. HomePod doesn’t have an SDK that developers could learn about, nor did it serve as a platform for a new wave of Siri features. Moreover, Apple didn’t need to scrape the barrel to find stuff to talk about. The WWDC keynote was jam-packed with hardware and software announcements. HomePod could have been cut and it would have still been a very impressive event.

I care less about the reason for the delay (it’s probably something boring) and more about why Apple felt pressured to announce their smart speaker prematurely in the first place.

Ryan Jones:

Tim is kowtowing to Wall Street – to the public. He’s muddying hardware launch stories with “delayed” and “out of stock”. He’s shipping unbaked software to annual dates.

Promise dates you can hit. Hell, stop promising dates! Do less and do it RIGHT (iOS).

The entire point of being super secret is to deliver “surprise and delight”.

And then you come out and promise a date you can’t hit!?

What a waste. What an unforced error. You just spoiled YOURSELF! Talk about “ruining engineers hard work”...YOU did it for no reason.

Update (2017-11-21): Mark Gurman (MacRumors):

More than two years passed. In that time Amazon’s Echo became a hit with consumers impressed by Alexa’s ability to answer questions, order pizzas and turn lights on and off. Meanwhile, Apple dithered over its own speaker, according to people familiar with the situation. The project was cancelled and revived several times, they said, and the device went through multiple permutations (at one point it stood 3 feet tall) as executives struggled to figure out how it would fit into the home and Apple’s ecosystem of products and services.

In the end, the company plowed ahead, figuring that creating a speaker would give customers another reason to stay loyal. Yet despite having all the ingredients for a serious competitor to the Echo—including Siri and the App Store—Apple never saw the HomePod as anything more than an accessory, like the AirPods earphones.

Twitter’s Verified Mess

Albert Wenger:

The net result of all of these mistakes was that the verified checkmark became an “official Twitter” badge. Instead of simply indicating something about the account’s identity it became a stamp of approval.


Just now Twitter has announced a further doubling down on this ridiculously untenable position. Twitter will now deverify accounts that violate its harassment rules. This is a terrible idea for two reasons: First, it puts Twitter deeper into content policing in a way that’s completely unmanageable (e.g., what about the account of someone who is well behaved on Twitter but awful off-Twitter?). Second, it defeats the original purpose of verification. Is an account not verified because it is an impostor or because Twitter deverified it?

Apple’s Use of Swift in iOS 11.1 and macOS 10.13.1

Alexandre Colucci:

On iOS 10.1 there were only 4 binaries using Swift. The number of apps and frameworks using Swift grew quite a lot in a year: There are now 20 apps and frameworks using Swift in iOS 11.1.


Similarly the number of binaries using Swift grew from 10 in macOS 10.12.1 to 23 in macOS 10.13.1.