Mozilla: End of Firefox for Android slated for 2020 as Fenix rises

Mozilla will put Firefox for Android on life support later this year.

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Firefox-maker Mozilla has outlined its transition plan for migrating existing Firefox for Android users across to the new Fenix mobile browser.

Fenix has been under development for the past few months, with developers experimenting with a new mobile-friendly interface that is hoped will appeal to younger users. 

The new browser is also the reason Mozilla hasn't delivered many feature updates to the existing Firefox for Android. 

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A recently published document, spotted by Ghacks, reveals Mozilla's plans for the co-existing Android browsers and how it intends to proceed. 

"The goal of this plan is to provide users with a secure and supported legacy Firefox for Android product until Fenix has reached migration readiness, while minimizing our ongoing support costs," explains Mozilla.  

The plan is "to not make any user-facing changes until their eventual migration to the new Fenix-based product", it adds. 

In other words, no new features will be delivered to Firefox for Android until Fenix ships. 

Mozilla is planning to release Firefox 67 and Firefox 68 for Android in May and July, respectively, and then in September it will make Firefox 68 the base for the extended support release (ESR) version of the browser, which on the desktop means security patches only. 

There's no precise date for the end of support for Firefox for Android, but the document points to 2020 as the end of life for the mobile browser, known internally as 'Fennec'. 

As for why it's building a replacement browser, Mozilla notes that its existing methods for building Firefox for Android "causes instability in Fennec quality and crash rates owing to changes in Gecko, which diverts resources away from Fenix and GeckoView development to investigate and fix".

Gecko is Mozilla's browser engine for Firefox, while GeckoView is its alternative to Google's Chromium-based tool for allowing Android apps to display web content.  

The new look Fenix turns the standard browser on its head, positioning the URL bar at the bottom of the screen. As per Techdows, the current Fenix preview suggests the browser will have a dark mode and grouped tabs. 

For Android users keen to try out Fenix, Mozilla has made it available on its Taskcluster platform. 

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