Firefox Voice Add-Ons Retired
Written by Sue Gee   
Monday, 01 February 2021

Retirement notices have been served for two of the Firefox Extensions that bore the "By Firefox" label, Voice Fill and Firefox Voice. Their entries in Mozilla Add-ons now displays warnings that they will uninstall themselves on February 19, 2021.


firefoxvoice

You can still add the extensions to Firefox but you are immediately deterred by a message from Caitlin Neiman who explains that the Mozilla Speech Proxy Server will be decommissioned on February 28, 2021 and as a result these two extensions that were powered by them will be "retired".

voicefill

Voice Fill, which has over 5,800 users, started out as an experiment in July 2017 as part of the Test Pilot program. It adds support to use Speech To Text as an input method in web pages, which seems a useful extra feature.

Firefox Voice Beta was launched in January 2020 and introduced voice controls to desktop versions of the Firefox web browser to  run searches, perform browser functions such as closing tabs or copying links and control media feedback. It has over 11,600 users, and the majority of its reviews are 5 star ones.

Both of the projects are open sourced on GitHubs, but there has been no recent activity in either repo - activity on Voice Fill petered out in 2019  and that on Firefox Fox ended abruptly in mid-2021 and when you look at who made contributions the reason is clear. The activity came from members of the Firefox Voice team who were laid off by Mozilla in August 2020, in a cost-cutting exercise  which we reported. The README.md file was updated then with this note about its status:

Mozilla has realigned its priorities, and Firefox Voice will no longer be supported by Mozilla. The Firefox Voice team will be going to new things, no longer with Mozilla. 

The repository will remain here, but archived. We believe the extension will be available for a few months but expect it will be removed from addons.mozilla.org eventually.

So that has now come to pass - and notably in a move that eliminates the hardware costs associated with maintaining the extensions.

Mozilla is searching for new revenue streams, but continues to latch onto ideas that are often slightly distasteful to its user base, involving advertising or paying for improvements that should be standard. The idea that providing services delivered using hardware might be a more acceptable way of generating revenue doesn't seem to occur. Paying for something real and tangible rather than a software privilege or publicity seems much more above board.

As Mozilla shrinks its investments in technology, its users shrink their investment in Firefox.

More Information

Retiring the Voice Fill and Firefox Voice Beta extensions

Voice Fill on GitHub

Firefox Voice Beta on GitHub

Related Articles

Promoted Add-Ons Pilot For Firefox

Mozilla Layoffs and Change of Focus

 

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Last Updated ( Monday, 01 February 2021 )