Firefox for Android revamp brings browser to 250 million older phones

Firefox for Android revamp brings browser to 250 million older phones

Summary: The update means Firefox for Android and its Awesome Bar now works on handsets built on ARMv6 architecture, including HTC Status and Samsung Galaxy Ace, massively extending the reach of the mobile browser.

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Mozilla has pushed out a new version of Firefox for Android, which it says makes the web browser compatible with around 250 million more phones than before.

The browser, best known for its desktop counterpart and stand-out features like the Awesome Bar, automatic syncing and HTML5 support, previously only worked on handsets with an ARMv7 processor (or higher), running Android 2.2 or newer.

htc-chacha
The HTC ChaCha will work with the updated Firefox for Android.

An update released on Monday adds support for older devices built on ARMv6 processors, which massively extends the range of phones that can use the software, Mozilla said.

"Given that roughly half of the nearly 500 million Android phones in use today run on ARMv6 architecture, this is an important step toward making the open web free to all," Mozilla said in a blog post.

Despite the expanded support, ARMv6 phones will still need at least an 800MHz processor and 512MB of RAM to run the browser, as well as Android 2.2 (Froyo).

Some of the devices now able to run Firefox for Android are the HTC Status, HTC ChaCha, Samsung Galaxy Ace, Motorola Fire XT and LG Optimus Q.

In the browser update, Mozilla also folded in some accessibility features found in recent Android builds. For example, Firefox for Android now supports TalkBack, the Android screen reader for the visually impaired, as well as Explore by Touch and Gesture Navigation.

In addition, Mozilla fixed some minor Android 4.2 instability issues and text deletion issues.

Topics: Browser, Android, Mobility, Smartphones, ARM

Ben Woods

About Ben Woods

With several years' experience covering everything in the world of telecoms and mobility, Ben's your man if it involves a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or any other piece of tech small enough to carry around with you.

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3 comments
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  • Firefox for Android

    I remember when Firefox for Android was a sad joke. I almost felt sorry for the Mozilla foundation for even trying. I was a diehard Opera fan at that point, as it offered the best, smoothest, quickest performance on Adroid devices.

    Not any more. Firefox is now my go-to browser for my aging HTC Flyer tablet. It's no exaggeration to say that it's extended this device's useful life by at least 6 months. As much as I'd like to buy a Nexus 7, Firefox makes the pro-argument a lot less compelling. The "pay off your credit cards first" argument stands a fighting chance.

    That said, on my ASUS Transformer, I still find myself gravitating to Chrome more often than not (the Flyer runs Honeycomb, and so can't run Chrome). I'll probably install Firefox on the Nexus 7 I buy in six months, but I'm not sure I'll use it over Chrome. The are both pretty comparable.

    And this is one of the very nive things about Android's openness as an OS: sure it's less "secure" than iOS or Win RT, but neither of those OS's give developers the access or flexibility to create fast third party browsers.
    dsf3g
  • Only Free Software Bothers To Support Older Hardware

    When did you last hear a new release of a proprietary product advertising the fact that it ran on older, cheaper CPUs?
    ldo17
    • Well...

      You don't want to tick off your hardware partners by cutting into their revenue streams - they might cut yours. Quite they cozy relationship they have.
      ejhonda