Firefox’s newest Test Pilot experiments help you track prices and email links

Test Pilot is Mozilla’s program for experimenting with some of its more outlandish ideas for Firefox and beyond. Some of those experiments make it into the browser itself, some become stand-alone extensions and others get unceremoniously canned. Today, the organization is announcing two new Test Pilot projects: Price Wise, which lets you track the price of items in online stores, and Email Tabs, a tool for making it easier to send links to people by email.

Price Wise is a pretty self-explanatory service. It works for Best By, eBay, Amazon, Walmart and Home Depot and lets you track price changes right in Firefox. That’s obviously not a novel idea. Plenty of other extensions do the same. Still, it’s nice to see a tool like this from a relatively neutral source. Mozilla tells me that all of the work happens on the user’s machine and that all of the development was done in-house, without relying on third-party tools. Mozilla also notes that it’s not monetizing this service through affiliate links.

One interesting side note here is that Mozilla is using machine-learning to power Price Wise. “We leverage machine learning outside the extension to make it happen,” a spokesperson told me. “You’ll be hearing more from us about machine learning as we evaluate more use cases to help Firefox users in their day to day without sacrificing privacy.”

While the idea behind Price Wise isn’t exactly new, Email Tabs is a more novel concept. The idea here is to make it easier for you to send links by email, which is apparently still the most popular way to share links, even today. Typically, that’s a process of copying and pasting links, which gets the job done, but isn’t exactly an elegant solution — or at least that’s what the engineers at Mozilla clearly thought. When you click the Email Tabs button, the extensions lets you choose which tabs you want to share and how much of the content from a link you want to be part of the email it creates for you. That could be just the link, but also a screenshot or the full text of the page you’re linking to.

Right now, this only works with Gmail, but you can also copy all the info to the clipboard and then paste it at will.

These two new experiments are now available for anybody who signs up to the Test Pilot program.

Firefox Email Tabs

As Mozilla also announced today, two of its previous experiments are about to graduate. Send, which lets you encrypt and share large files up to 1GB will be updated and relaunched later this year. Color, which lets you customize the look of Firefox to your heart’s content, will become a stand-alone extension and Side View, which lets you view two browser windows side-by-side inside the same Firefox window, is joining Color as a stand-alone extension, too.

With Lockbox and Notes, Mozilla launches its first set of mobile Test Pilot experiments

Mozilla’s Test Pilot program for Firefox has long been the organization’s way to trial some of its more experimental ideas for new browser features. Now it’s expanding this program to include mobile apps, too, with the launch Firefox Lockbox, of a password manager for iOS, and Notes by Firefox, a note-taking app for Android.

Both apps have a connection to Firefox (hence their names), but we’re not talking about Firefox plugins here. These are stand-alone apps that sync with Firefox on the desktop and mobile and share its branding.

Lockbox gives you access to passwords you’ve saved in Firefox and then lets you use them in their respective apps (think Twitter or Instagram). To unlock the app, you can use Face ID or your fingerprint.

If you’re not a Firefox user, you probably won’t get a lot of value out of Lockbox, but if you are, then this now allows you to use Firefox’s native password manager instead of a third-party app. That’s a smart move by Mozilla, which doesn’t necessarily have a lot of market share for its browser on iOS but still wants to keep iOS users involved in its ecosystem.

Notes by Firefox does exactly what you think it does. It’s a note taking app for Android that stores your encrypted notes and syncs them between your phone and the browser. If this sounds a bit familiar, that’s probably because the Notes browser plugin itself is a Test Pilot experiment that launched back in 2017. Now Mozilla is complementing it with a mobile app. Notes in the browser offers all the basic note-taking features you’d want (with support for Markdown if that’s your thing), though we are talking about pretty basic functionality here. Don’t expect a Microsoft Onenote or a similarly fully-featured service.