Mozilla announces Firefox for Android

Mozilla announces Firefox for Android

Summary: Mozilla today announced availability of its much anticipated Firefox open source browser for Android, effectively giving its key financial backer, Google, a run for its money on the mobile browser front.

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Mozilla jumped on the Google I/O bandwagon by announcing availability of its much anticipated Firefox browser for Android.

The non-profit open source foundation claims the new mobile browser is speedier than the native Android browser on Google's smartphone/tablet code and offers a host of performance, security and usability improvements, including a new Awesome Screen interface and support for Flash for videos and game playing.

The Awesome Screen is enabled by Firefox Sync and brings bookmarks, history and settings to Android devices. Mozilla also optimized the tabbed browsing, Sync and add-ons functionality for mobile browsing and integrated in new HTML 5 capabilities and key security features of its desktop offering such as Do Not Track, Master Password and HTTP Strict Transport Security.

It will be interesting to watch uptake of Firefox, which had been the only top open source browser until Google's Chrome started making serious headway on the desktop and on mobile devices.

Google's recent infusion of more cash into Mozilla and Mozilla's own re-energized Firefox design efforts seem to ensure that the open source browser will remain alive and well for some time to come, regardless of how well Google's own Chrome browser adoption accelerates on Android devices.

"The new Firefox for Android gives people a powerful mobile Web with faster start-up time, a new look and feel, Flash support and Firefox Sync to give you access to Awesome Bar history, saved passwords, bookmarks and open tabs across your computers and Android phone," Mozilla announced Tuesday. "Firefox for Android is super speedy and highly customizable, and touts industry-leading privacy and security features."

Topics: Browser, Android, Google, Open Source

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20 comments
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  • Man what a sad waste of engineering effort. Im sure its got lots of great

    work in it but android smartphone users are almost entirely people who dont know what an os is and dont care. They're going to use the browser that comes on the device when they buy it. It's good enough.
    Johnny Vegas
    • you would be right...

      ...if you phrased it "smartphone users are almost entirely people who dont know what an os is and dont care" - goes for iOS, Bberry and WinPhone users too.
      Android is different though - if Firefox is really good on it, OEM may choose to ship their phones with it as default browser. Can't do that with iOS, Bberry and WinPhone.
      vgrig
    • Confused with...

      ...iPhone? You can sell any new android device as iPhone 5 to 80% of iPhone users with an Apple sticker behind it.
      AmediaN
    • You seem very confused....

      What your saying is not correct in any way. Apple user tend to stay with the stock safari browser and do not use other browser on the most part. I never met an android user who has just the stock browser on an android device. Downloading firefoxe, opera, or dolphin is usually an android users first order of business. maybe you just typed Android instead of apple or just don't know about android and it's users.
      Fletchguy
  • Download size

    Download size for Firefox for Windows: 15.8 MB
    Download size for Firefox for Android: 17.1 MB

    Someone needs to explain that one to me.
    Michael Kelly
    • Windows is better than Android

      Easy to explain (see above). Windows is a proper OS for a full-power PC. Android is essentially a lightweight netbook OS powered by Java (deliberately using Java without permission).
      Tim Acheson
      • Yawn... Not according to the judge and jury...

        nt
        vgrig
      • According to everyone

        Actually, there is no doubt that Android is "deliberately using Java without permission".

        What the Judge and Jury found was that they didn't [i]need[/i] permission. A subtle, but important distinction.
        x I'm tc
  • Mozilla > Google

    I've had Firefox on my Android devices for years. It has always been much better than Google's half-baked default browser. How much better can the new version be?

    Google should be forced to prompt every Android user with a choice of browsers, just as they forced Microsoft to do on Windows after years of campaigning about it. Google's infinite hypocrisy id unsustainable.
    Tim Acheson
    • hypocrisy

      "Google's infinite hypocrisy id unsustainable."
      I don't know - MS, Apple, Oracle, etc., etc. - sustained theirs just fine for decades.
      vgrig
    • Better?

      Running it on SGS2 Skyrocket ICS. well, I was.
      Had a couple of issues.
      Loads quick, page loads are not so quick.
      Cannot find how to delete browsing history.
      It insists on loading a couple of my common visited web pages in mobile mode. Won't let me load in full.
      Adblocker works.

      Wasn't better, actually it was more frustrating than bad. Removed it.
      rhonin
    • Android users have a choice of browsers

      It's not like downloading Firefox or Opera from the Google Play Store is hard or expensive.
      John L. Ries
    • You do....

      You do have a choice of any browser you want with android. They give you one that allows you to connect to the internet out the box and load the one you want then you set the one you want as default and it is used everytime. Pretty clear , upfront and straight forward.
      Fletchguy
  • Good news

    P.S. Google's Chrome browser is proprietary.

    From the article:
    [i]Firefox, which had been the only top open source browser until Google???s Chrome started making serious headway on the desktop and on mobile devices.[/i]

    The Chromium browser is open source and does not include the proprietary PDF Reader and Flash Player plugins shipped with the Chrome browser. Google's Chrome browser is built with open-source components including both WebKit and Chromium.
    Rabid Howler Monkey
  • I'm confused

    I've been running Firefox on my Android tablet for months. What's changed?
    John L. Ries
    • I was going to ask the same thing...

      I too have been running Firefox on my Droid phone for several weeks. It even updated itself to v.14.0 either yesterday or the day before, I forget which.

      Maybe this was just an "official announcement" of it's availability?
      Hallowed are the Ori
    • It's a "major new version" of Firefox for Android

      Among other things, Mozilla traded in XUL for a native Android UI. More here:

      http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2012/06/hands-on-firefox-for-android-may-become-your-favorite-android-browser/
      Rabid Howler Monkey
  • Firefox as bad as Google

    All I know is I went to load Firefox on my phone, and these are some of the permissions required

    - Allows app to modify system settings data. Perhaps reasonable

    - Fine GPS location. I don't like it, but it's common enough.

    - TAKE PICTURES AND VIDEOS. WHAT ?!?! This program is allowed to take a pic or video of whatever my phone's camera is pointing at? What legitimate reason can there be for that?

    There are many others that I don't like, but can at least see a reason for. Is Firefox owned by Facebook now, or what?
    vermonter
  • Not for me

    I just saw this article, opened Play Store and searched for Firefox. Found article telling me how great it was, but no Install button; instead, a message at the top saying the device is not compatible with this version (LG Optimus S). Maybe my wife can get it on her newer Galaxy S3 phone.
    jallan32
  • Not all Android...

    My wife just recently upgraded (within the carrier account) from LG Optimus S to Samsung Galaxy S3, and I upgraded from a flip phone to her old Optimus. Just for curiosity, I tried to install Firefox from the Play Store, and it refused to download, saying it is not supported on my device. So it looks as if Mozilla is after users with the latest and greatest Android platforms only.
    jallan32