Firefox development has always been a bit on the slow side. The wait between versions isn’t as bad as Internet Explorer, but it’s a snail’s pace compared to Google who has nearly unlimited resources to throw into Chrome. Following the release of Firefox 4, Mozilla made a commitment to its users to move to a rapid release schedule. More aggressive timelines means more help is needed to help squash bugs, and today they released a new way for users to help out.
In the past Firefox fan's had the option of living on the wild side with the somewhat unpredictable nightly build, or opt for the slightly more stable beta version. Now however, we finally have an option in-between. Users who choose to sign up for Mozilla’s new “Aurora” channel will have the option to test new features that the team feels are “ready to go”, but are still largely untested by a wide audience. Members of the Aurora channel are also encouraged to provide feedback to help Mozilla decide what makes it into the final release.
It’s hard to recommend the nightly builds to anyone who isn’t part of the development team, but if you’re willing to sacrifice the stability of the released version to get on the cutting edge, Aurora probably makes the most sense. You’ll get a sneak peak at upcoming features before everyone else, and help shape future versions of the product.