Firefox 105 Beta Includes Gesture Navigation, PDF Annotation + More

Mozilla Firefox 105 is shaping up to be an impressive update when the stable release lands in a couple of weeks time.

Intrigued by what I’ve been hearing, I downloaded the latest beta of the famous FOSS browser to find out first-hand what Mozilla’s got in store for us.

And spoiler: it’s set to be a real doozie.

Firefox 105 Beta: New Features

Navigation Gestures on Wayland

I’ll kick off — or rather flick off — with a Linux-specific change in the early Firefox 105 beta involving gestures, specifically touchpad navigation back/forward through web history under Wayland.

Yes, yes: you’re probably bored of hearing about this feature — I first wrote about it in June — but the feature is enabled out of the box in the early betas of 105, and on course to ship in Firefox 106 (frustrating though it is to wait, I can understand devs wanting to take time to get things right as this change is enabled by default).

In older version of Firefox you can navigate back/forward through your browsing history by pressing down the alt key while doing a two-finger swipe left/right on a touchpad.

In Firefox 105 beta, the same two-finger swipe on the touchpad moves you back/forward through your navigation history but a) you don’t need to press alt and b) you will see on-screen animations to indicate you’re navigating:

animated gif of firefox two finger swipe back forward
Two-finger gesture – no Alt required

Ground-breaking it ain’t, but effective it is — a change that brings Firefox up-to-par with features offered by other Linux browsers, like Epiphany. Look out for it in Firefox 106.

Firefox isn’t blurry

Talking of Wayland, I have noticed that the Firefox 105 beta is pin-sharp on my 2K laptop with fractional scaling enabled. Previously, I have had to manually set an environment variable to stop the browser UI and content rendered within from looking blurry.

You can see the difference in the screenshot below, though do note this image is compressed thus reducing the sharpness a little:

Left: Firefox 104; Right: Firefox 105b

Annoyingly, I can’t find any specific reference or indication to suggest that this pin-sharp appearance is an intentional (!) change, or one that the final stable release will feature. As such, don’t be too surprised if the final Firefox 105 release remains blurry by default.

PDF Annotation

If you’re the sort of person to preview PDFs in Firefox rather than a desktop PDF viewer, you’re gonna love Firefox Firefox 105 beta as it adds annotation to the built-in PDF viewer:

  • Click the pencil icon in the toolbar to draw freehand on a document
  • Click the text icon in the toolbar to add written annotations to any part of the document

Freehand annotations can be drawn using your mouse, a finger, or a stylus on a touch-enabled device. You can reposition and resize your doodles, change line thickness and colour, and (of course) delete them. The same is true for text annotations which you can place anywhere and, prior to saving, re-edit the text inside.

pdf annotation in Firefox 105
PDF annotation features in Firefox 105b

Other changes

Mozilla Firefox 105 is now “less likely to run out of memory on Linux”, according to the beta release notes. Mozilla add that browser performs better when system memory runs low. While neither of these are the kind of changes one can “screenshot” to show off, they are there and well-worth making some noise about.

Finally, if you’re a user of the Firefox Snap, a few readers tell me that GNOME extension integration is working out-of-the-box in the Firefox 105 Beta Snap build on Ubuntu, meaning other messaging integrations e.g., password managers, may work (some folks say the feature works in the 104 Snap build, but it doesn’t for me).

Download Firefox 105

Keen to get up close and personal with these changes yourself? Hold your horses (gently); Firefox 105 is currently in beta. A stable version will appear later this month. If that doesn’t put you off you can download the latest Firefox beta as a binary from the releases page.

To use the binary just extract the .tar.gz archive it downloads as and then double-click on the ‘firefox’ binary inside to run. As the binary is “not installed” you can run it alongside a stable version installed from an alternative source, though ideally you shouldn’t do it at the same time!

Updated to mention navigation gestures won’t come until 106

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