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Firefox 3 Beta 2 First Impressions

The other big announcement is the addition of support for offline web applications. So you'll be able to use programs like Google Docs and Gmail when not connected to the internet - just as you can with Microsoft Office. Unfortunately, while the facility is there, the developer's of said programs need to rework their applications to enable this and, as yet, none of the big names are available. So, for the time being it's a bit of a tickbox feature but in the future it could lead to a complete blurring of the line between on- and offline applications.

Other more immediate improvements include bookmarking, which has been given a hefty overhaul with the addition of a star rating and tagging system. When used in conjunction with the new Smart Bookmarks and Places tabs this gives you quicker and more casual access to those websites you think might be useful but you wouldn't go so far as to add them to your permanent bookmark list.

The address bar is another area that's seen big improvements with a powerful ‘search as you type' algorithm now in place. It now indexes all the pages you've visited, no matter whether you've typed them into the address bar already or if you went there via a link, making it a much more powerful tool. Also, more information is displayed about the pages as you type so you don't have to try and interpret the gobbledegook addresses that dynamic sites like Ebay, Google, and Online banking services use.

As well as a plethora of under the bonnet security improvements, there's now an identify feature that enables you to click on a website's logo and immediately see the domain and owner information. This helps to identify phishing and other web scams that use fake websites to fool you into giving up personal information. However, whether it's because the program's still in beta or if most websites simply haven't signed up to the service yet, few sites yet show any information - another feature for the future.

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