Late Monday a small, yet big Firefox feature was released to testers of Minefield, Mozilla’s testbed application for new browser innovations. The new feature is private browsing, also known in some circles as “porn mode.” When toggled, it takes your Web history, user names, passwords, searches, and cookies and bins them the second you close out the window, effectively making it appear that the session never existed.
Monday night’s Minefield build included said privacy mode in all its glory, giving browser users the freedom to hide their browsing habits from others.
Similar to the implementation found in browsers made by Apple, Microsoft, and Google, the new mode can be started at any time during a browsing session. However, users must allow their existing window (with any open tabs) to be shut down while using the freshly opened “private” one. Once they close that out, it will simply re-open their original browsing session. Users can also opt to have every session start out in privacy mode, which could be a useful setting on public computers.
The feature has been on Firefox’s road map for some time now (Mozilla’s bug tracker has it posted back in mid-2004), however it could not be completed in time for Firefox 3’s release back in mid-June. In the meantime users have been able to achieve similar results using several extensions–the most notable being Stealther.
Expect to see privacy mode making its way into Firefox 3.1, which will feature privacy and performance tweaks, along with improvements to the built-in tagging system. If you want to become a tester, you can find out more here.