Mozilla announced on its official blog this morning that it's teaming up with Samsung to create a brand-new mobile browser engine, dubbed Servo. Its aim is to power browsers for "tomorrow's faster, multi-core, heterogeneous computing architectures" - so the sell is that Servo will be built from the ground up to take advantage of increasingly capable mobile hardware.

Servo will be written in Rust, Mozilla's own programming language, which - surprise of surprises - has been designed to more readily take advantage of parallel computing. Rust also boasts more built-in security and memory stability compared to C++, according to Mozilla.

Servo's primary competitor, obviously, will be WebKit, the current mobile browser engine of choice for both Google and Apple. Samsung steps into the equation on the Android / ARM end, and has already helped Mozilla implement an ARM backend for Rust, and provided the necessary build infrastructure to cross-compile to Android.

So, what are they up to? Samsung is probably hoping to power its own mobile browser with Servo (eventually), and move away from its current WebKit solution, which is based on the stock Android browser app. Given that Google doesn't update the stock Android browser anymore, this makes a lot of sense. It's Chrome or go home in the long run for Android OEMs, and Samsung probably isn't very enthusiastic about that plan. I know I wouldn't be, given the rather slow and clunky state of Google's supposedly cutting-edge mobile browser at the moment.

Mozilla Blog via The Verge

David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • Ádám Zovits

    "rather slow and clunky"? It works for me quite well.

  • Nathaniel Webb

    If only it were called 'Tom Servo'. sigh.

  • Dima Aryeh

    I'm glad someone agrees that Chrome for Android is not quite as ideal as they say

    • Matthew Fry

      I think it's funny that the AP writers don't agree as to the quality of Chrome for Android :-)

    • etche

      irony maybe?

      • ssj4Gogeta

        Slightly oxidized irony :P

    • markt9002

      Chrome Beta is awesome.

  • Nick

    "...slow and clunky..."?!? Even after removing my 'fanboy' hat, I struggle to find a basis for this claim. I, personally, am very pleased with Chrome and use it almost exclusively across 5 PCs, 2 Android phones, 1 Android tablet and a Chromebook. I understand that people's needs vary, but I can't say that I would ever think of Chrome as "Slow and clunky". Just my $.02....

    • Jaime Larios

      He was just referring to the mobile version that's not as good as the desktop version.

      • http://profiles.google.com/jonbethea Jonathan Bethea

        regardless comparing the stock android browser to even the mobile version of chorme and calling chrome "Slow and clunky" what world do you live in?

        • http://twitter.com/ToysSamurai Toys Samurai

          When Chrome for Android first came out, it's a lot faster than the stock browser, but it got slower and slower in each revision ... until recently, which it became speedy again (I haven't compared it to the stock browser again, though.)

          • markt9002

            IMO, Chrome Beta is the best browser for Android right now. I also have the AOSP browser installed and I barely use it anymore. Chrome Beta benchmarks the highest, and works best with most websites. The only things I miss about the AOSP browser are the quick controls and the ability to change the user agent. I really can't stand the stable version of Chrome.

    • Wam31

      I'd say it pretty much depends on what you do with it. I too, am not pleased with chrome on a phone.
      I use both the default Android browser AND Opera (same as using chrome, really). But my problem is the opening time (which is the same with Chrome, Opera and Firefox, I used 'em all)

      Personally, for long lasting browsing needs (multiple tabs, intensive use), I launch Opera of course, and wait, then wait, then wait some more and then I can use it (yes, I need to update my phone).
      But for a one time use (opening a link from gmail or from Pulse, etc.) I want the page to show up quickly ! so I select the default browser when asked, which has no loading time !

      So yes, Chrome/Opera... are great fully loaded browser but ARE very slow and clunky, at least when not running on a flagship device...

  • Marcus

    Servo isn't new. Mozilla has been working on it for over a year. Samsung is just teaming up to bring it to Android. People keep misreporting this.

    • ssj4Gogeta

      You seem to be right. The first commit on their repository is dated Feb 8, 2012.

      • Marcus

        I started following it on Github yesterday, before this announcement even.

  • Chris Caldwell

    honestly, all of the benefits of 'new' and 'rebuilt for multicore' etc etc get outweighed by having another engine which wont be standard compliant, and requires even more accommodating. Just what everyone needs, another 'if they have THIS browser...' block.

  • http://www.cheers4all.com/ Steve Richard

    that is just amazing news http://www.cheers4all.com