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When I visited Mozilla's offices about 6 months ago, I saw a mobile testing station which included about 20-30 different phones lounging around, with their chargers plugged in. I knew something serious was coming soon. There were rumors about Firefox for Mobile for a while but nothing to really show for it. That was then…

Today, however, we know a lot more. Firefox for Mobile, codenamed Fennec, is coming next month (see More Info below) and looks very promising.

Here is a recent video of the Firefox's mobile and design teams discussing and showing the features of Mobile Firefox:


Feature Highlights

For the busy folks, here are the highlights from the video:

  • Mobile Firefox uses as much screen real estate as possible to show the page
  • swipe screen left to see the open tab list
  • swipe right to see navigation buttons
  • awesome bar knows what you're looking for as you start typing, just like in your desktop Firefox
  • sync using Mozilla Weave - seamless sync desktop and mobile, including history and open tabs
  • location based browsing - allows sharing your location with websites automatically (obviously, with your approval only - excellent!)
  • security and privacy are the #1 priority
  • mobile add-ons - they're trying to create the same development platform that the desktop Firefox already uses. Yup, that means AdBlock is coming.
  • HTML 5 support

And some more from Mozilla and GigaOM's interview with Mozilla CEO John Lilly:

  • support for Javascript, CSS, Flash, SVG, video, and audio
  • based on Firefox 3.6 engine which is not even available for desktops yet
  • Firefox for Mobile will initially support Windows Mobile and Maemo, followed by Android and Symbian
    • surely, iPhone owners are out of luck as Apple will never allow a competing browser app on their market. Great - another reason to switch to Android
    • Blackberry users are also out of luck as BB uses Java
    • Android also uses Java and initially Mozilla ignored it. However, later the Android NDK came out, which allows building of applications in C/C++ and this fact changed everything
  • the first public releases should be available in December 2009, according to this article.

Some useful linkage:

Conclusion

Firefox for Mobile is going to be a serious contender in the mobile web space - we know how serious these guys can get, don't we? After all, they've turned a barely known browser into a #2 in the last few years (soon to be #1, right?). Surely, they can do it again, this time in mobile.

I will be trying out Mobile Firefox (for Android) as soon as I get my hands on it, so expect a detailed review then. I have little doubt that it will replace my plain mobile browser.

What do you guys think?