Continuing to adhere to its rapid release cycle, Mozilla has published the latest stable release of Firefox 18. "The Firefox of today," Mozilla VP Jonathan Nightingale believes, "is significantly better than the Firefox of a year ago in every way". That sounds like a reasonable claim: Firefox 18 makes the browser faster and more feature-filled than ever.

Download Firefox 18 (stable release)
Windows | Mac OS X | Linux | Release Notes

Download Firefox 19b1 (beta)

Amongst the biggest changes 18 brings is a brand new JavaScript engine. Named IonMonkey, this Just-In-Time compiler speeds up JavaScript performance by creating an optimized, intermediate representation of the script before run time. Next, the compiler translates that optimized IR into machine code, making for speedier JavaScript execution. According to Mozilla, FF18 offers a 7-28 percent bump in performance over FF17. It'll be interesting to see how IonMonkey stacks up against Chrome, IE10 and others in some comparative benchmarks.

Some Mac users will be glad to hear that Firefox 18 also brings "Retina" support, meaning Firefox is now designed to look sharp and crisp on high-PPI screens. Although such displays theoretically offer 3-4 times the sharpness of traditional screens, software makers must design their UIs to take advantage of those extra pixels or the result is an unfortunate, blurry appearance

Although FF18 proudly touts Retina support, one bug may continue to dampen the high-res experience of Windows users fortunate enough to own high-PPI displays.

In addition to FF18 for the desktop, Mozilla has also updated its mobile version of Firefox for Android. Version 18 introduces many of the improvements found in the desktop version, but one handheld-specific change is the inclusion of a new anti-malware / anti-phishing filter customized specifically for mobile platforms.