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This is Firefox’s new QuantumBar Address Bar design



Firefox 68 will be the first stable version of the web browser that features the rewrite of Firefox’s address bar. The new component, called QuantumBar — matching Mozilla’s use of the Quantum name since the release of Firefox 57 Quantum — replaces the Awesome Bar in Firefox 68.

The core difference between both address bar implementations lies under the hood. Awesome Bar uses classic Firefox components such as XUL and XBL that are purged from the browser, the QuantumBar web technologies.

Firefox users should not see much of a difference when they are updated to Firefox 68; Mozilla wanted the new implementation to look and feel like the old in the first release.

Mozilla plans to activate the QuantumBar in Firefox 68 and to introduce updates to the address bar in future versions of the web browser.

A new design mockup reveals information about planned changes and experiments.

firefox new quantumbar address bar

Mozilla plans to introduce changes to the QuantumBar implementation after the release of Firefox 68. The changes won’t be massive in scale but they may improve functionality or change the layout or design of the address bar somewhat.

One of the first changes that Firefox users may notice once the changes land is that the address bar gets a bit bigger when it is selected or when a new tab page is opened. It is a visual indicator that the bar is selected.

The list of suggestions and on-off searches displayed when users start to type in the address bar won’t fill the entire browser window width anymore. The suggestions use the same width as the address bar once the change lands.

Firefox continues to highlight the user typed text in the list of suggestions. Mozilla plans to change that for search suggestions however. Search suggestions will have the suggested part highlighted instead to make. Whether that might lead to some confusion as to what gets highlighted when users type in the address bar remains to be seen.

Another useful change is that Firefox “remembers” the current state of input. Current versions of Firefox forget what you have typed if you click outside of the area or switch tabs accidentally. The new implementation displays the last state automatically so that you may continue right away.

The on-off search icons come with descriptive text that explains that the searches are for a single search only and won’t change the default search provider in the Firefox browser.

Mozilla plans to run a number of experiments next to these changes that might make their way into the final version of the browser eventually. The following experiments are considered currently:

  • Display the Top 8 sites from Activity Stream on address bar activation — Firefox displays the top 8 visited sites taken from Activity Stream when the address bar is selected.
  • Replace one-off searches with Search shortcuts — Instead of running searches when search icons are selected, Firefox would simply open the search engine.
  • Single SAP — Removes in-content search from Activity Stream and Private Browsing (removes the search bar on New Tab page and other pages)
  • Search Tips — Provide contextual information to help users understand QuantumBar functionality.
  • Search Interventions — Intercept Firefox specific-searches to “surface buried functionality”.

Firefox 68 is scheduled for a July 9, 2019 release.


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Instagram will give you more control over your third-party apps…in about six months




Instagram  is slowly rolling out a new feature that will help better protect your personal data from being accessed by your long-discarded, third-party applications — that is, any app you had once authorized to access your Instagram profile over the years. This may include websites you used for printing your Instagram photos, various dating apps or Instagram tools for making collages, finding your top photos and more.

Providing a tool to remove third-party apps’ access to your account is now a fairly commonplace security setting among platform providers. Instagram is late to offer such functionality. TwitterFacebook and Google have had similar functionality in place for years.

And Instagram isn’t hurrying its launch, either.

The company says its new security features will take a whopping six months to reach all users, as it’s designed to be a gradual rollout. For comparison’s sake, most new features tend to roll out in days or sometimes weeks, but rarely as long as half a year.

Revoke access 1

The choice to move slowly is worth calling out here — especially given that Instagram’s parent company Facebook’s massive personal data scandal, Cambridge Analytica, arose because users had connected to a third-party app that improperly collected users’ personal data.

Instagram, arguably, has less of a treasure trove of personal information on hand to tap into, compared with Facebook. But there’s still no need to let some app you used once, many years ago, continue to access information like your Instagram username, your photos, all your captions, timestamps of your posts, permalinks and more. And if you maintain a private account with the intention of only sharing your content with close friends and family, this level of access might make you even more uncomfortable.

While Instagram isn’t clear in its public announcement about its reasoning for such a slow rollout, it’s tied to API changes for developers. The company is giving developers time to move from the Instagram Legacy API Platform to the Facebook Graph API.

As the company explains in a developer announcement, the new API will enable “appropriate consumer use-cases, while protecting user privacy and safety” — including giving users the ability to decide what information they share with apps, then revoke access through the Instagram mobile app. The legacy API platform will be deprecated on March 2, 2020.

It would have made sense for Instagram to communicate to users that the gradual rollout is because it’s giving developers time to get their apps ready for these changes. But because it didn’t mention this, the news of the slow rollout comes across as Instagram not believing such a feature is a priority or important to users.

If you have the new security setting, you’ll find it under “Settings” in the Instagram app. It will be under “Security,” then “Apps and Websites.” From this screen, you can tap “Remove” on any apps you don’t want connected to your Instagram account.

Related to this, Instagram says it’s also introducing an updated authorization screen that will detail all the information an app is requesting when you go to authorize it to connect to your Instagram account. If you think it’s over-reaching, you can just choose “Cancel” instead of “Authorize.”

Authorize Access

If you don’t have the new features now, just wait until sometime in 2020, I guess.


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Microsoft’s Your Phone app now supports Android call syncing on Windows




One big reason iPhone users stay within Apple’s ecosystem is that all of its devices communicate with one another. Microsoft’s Your Phone app helps bring similar connectivity between Android and Windows devices. And with its latest update, it’s better than ever.

Android users can now sync their phone calls with their Windows computers. Right now, the feature is open to the Windows Insider community, but it should be available to everyone else soon.

This new functionality allows users to answer, initiate, and decline Android phone calls from their computers. The app can also send a custom text to declined callers or send them directly to voicemail. Users can even transfer calls between their computers and smartphones on the fly.

To take advantage of this, users must be running Android 7 or newer, Windows 10 PC build 18362.356 or later, and both devices need Bluetooth support. The feature has some bugs as of right now, but Microsoft should fix them soon.

Blog site Thurrott also noticed Microsoft released the ability to inline reply to notifications a few months ago using the Your Phone app. This was a critical feature missing at the app’s launch.

With Android call syncing and inline replies on Windows, users are one step closer to Apple-level device communication (although we’re still pretty far away from that). And now that Microsoft recently announced an upcoming Android device, we expect the Your Phone app will greatly improve over the next year.


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Instagram Gets Dark Mode Support on Android and iOS, Removes Following Tab for All Users




Instagram is introducing a series of new, welcome changes to its Android and iOS apps this week. The Facebook-owned app now finally supports dark mode on both Android and iOS. The company has been testing the feature for a while and it’s now rolling out to all users. Besides this, Instagram is also removing the Following tab from its Activity feed that lets users browse through others’ Instagram activity. Lastly, Instagram is also adding a new security feature that helps you avoid phishing scams.

The new dark mode feature in Instagram works on both Android and iOS apps. You’ll need to switch to the system-wide dark mode setting on your smartphone to use this feature. You’ll need an iOS device running iOS 13 and an Android device running Android 10. But in case your Android phone runs a custom skin that supports dark mode, it’ll trigger Instagram’s dark mode too.

You’ll also need to update the Instagram app to the latest version on your Android or iOS smartphone. There’s no way to toggle the dark mode feature on or off within the app.

Besides the new dark mode, Instagram is also removing the Following tab in its Activity feed. The tab featured a user’s friend activity on Instagram. The Facebook-owned company had started removing the feature for select users starting August, but will now remove it for everyone by this week, the company confirmed to Buzzfeed News.

Instagram’s head of product, Vishal Shah told Buzzfeed News that the app’s users weren’t always aware of the fact their activity was accessible to their friends. The tab will now focus on a user’s own activity instead. The Following tab was introduced back in 2011 to let users discover new content before the Explore tab was introduced.

Meanwhile, Instagram is also trying to help users avoid phishing scams. The company is adding a new security feature that adds a list of official email addresses from companies, letting users cross-check if an email they have received is from the relevant company or a malicious user.


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