Firefox 4 Beta for Android: Set up nicely for tablet use

Mozilla released the latest beta for Firefox 4 on Android and Maemo and the browser is well positioned for the army of tablets about to hit the market.

Mozilla released the latest beta for Firefox 4 on Android and Maemo and the browser is well positioned for the army of tablets about to hit the market.

In a blog post, Mozilla said its latest mobile Firefox version is available. In many respects, Mozilla has been an also-ran on the mobile front, but is playing catch up quickly as Android grows.

I took the Firefox 4 Beta for Android for a spin. As advertised, the latest version is more stable and relatively easy to use. The previous version was rough on performance and stability. The Web pages render nicely and add-ons could give Firefox on Android some appeal.

Overall, Firefox 4 for Android will likely become my go-to mobile browser. However, I couldn't help but think that Firefox 4 on Android will really become a tablet story. On my phone, the best part of Firefox 4 was the Sync feature.

At first, linking my desktop browser to the phone was a bit difficult. Mozilla requires a long sync key that can be a hassle on a phone keyboard. Once set up though, the shared bookmarks enabled by Sync made Firefox 4 well worth the effort.

Here's why Firefox 4 for Android is going to be a tablet story:

  • There are a bevy of Android tablets about to hit the market.
  • Firefox's features---mobile add-ons, Sync and tabbed browsing---would really shine on a larger screen.
  • Coordinating your desktop and mobile browsing experiences will simply matter more on a tablet.

If Firefox is going to gain share on Android it will largely be because of tablets. The experience, Sync and add-ons just seem to work better on the big screen. I would have provided more screenshots to illustrate the point, but was stunned by how much work was required just for a silly screen grab on Android.

As an aside, I'm not really sure why Firefox is bothering too much with Maemo given the recent Nokia bet to focus on Windows Phone 7. It's clear that Firefox's mobile fate will rest with Android---specifically tablets.

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