Facebook integration, which has been in beta testing since October 22, rolls out today as part the Social API feature of Firefox’s new release.
Firefox until now has allowed downloadable add-ons to connect social networks to the browser. The new Social API makes the process more seamless.
Instead of keeping Facebook open in a separate tab, the new Facebook plug-in adds the notifications sidebar you normally see on the side of your Facebook page, so you can keep up with social news and browse the Web simultaneously. Your Facebook chats will also appear on the side of your browser.
After upgrading to the latest version of Firefox, you can activate Facebook integration by visiting the Facebook Messenger for Firefox page and turning on the feature. You can also disable it at any time. If you don’t have Facebook, you won’t even see these options.
What are the benefits?
Mozilla engineering manager Gavin Sharp says Facebook integration eliminates the constant toggling between tabs, or the need to supplement Web browsing with a second screen, such as a smartphone.
Facebook is the first social network to integrate with Firefox, but Mozilla is negotiating with other sites, too.
“The Firefox user base overlaps a lot with the Facebook one,” Sharp says. “As a first step, this offers heavy Facebook users a great way to use Facebook in Firefox and in a way that’s not too obtrusive.”
Sharp says potential partners include “all the names you would expect in the social space,” but also other sites, like e-mail and office productivity software providers. Eventually, a toolbar featuring buttons for various social networks and other partners will appear in Firefox so you can easily integrate your browser with sites you use the most.
Firefox is still working with Facebook to get feedback on the feature and determine a timeframe for a wider rollout. The company is also seeking input from developers and early adopters to improve the feature before it goes public.