Earlier this year, Mozilla introduced Firefox Accounts, an easier way to sync all the good stuff like your passwords, bookmarks, history, and open tabs across multiple devices. This is far from Firefox's first rodeo, as the browser has had support for syncing data since Chrome was a baby, but this introduces in a further degree of ease-of-use and consolidation that users have come to expect. Now the functionality has found its way into the latest version of the Firefox Beta Android app.
The security of our mobile apps and private data is a very serious matter. This is particularly true for high value targets like web browsers, which often store login credentials that can be used to access many of the websites we use on a regular basis. Unfortunately, browsers are also very complicated applications with an extensive set of features that are difficult to lock down completely. Sebastián Guerrero Selma of viaForensics recently posted a video demonstrating a newly discovered vulnerability in Firefox for Android which would allow hackers to access both the contents of the SD card and the browser's private data.
A very serious security hole has been discovered in Firefox for Android that allows a website to force the browser to download and run potentially damaging files, usually without the user's knowledge or interaction. The vulnerability was first described and demonstrated publicly on September 9th as part of a posting meant to advertise the attack as being for sale. The method for exploiting the weakness simply requires a webserver to instruct Firefox for Android to initiate a download, after which the downloaded file is automatically opened or executed (depending on the file type).
The team behind Firefox for Android teased the upcoming release with a tablet-friendly design back in late August, and the final version of FF9 just landed in the Android Market. The update not only features a specialized tablet interface, but also boosts performance and startup speed and brings some HTML5 tweaks to the scene, like camera input support and form validation.
The tablet interface offers some nice features over its phone-centric counterpart, like full-screen browsing in portrait, optimized tabs for easy thumb-switching between open pages, and a quick access buttons on the Action Bar.
Firefox is finally getting flash support. Support for the plugin landed in the nightly builds a few days ago - meaning you can try it yourself, right now.
If you want to experience the magic of flash on Firefox, you can try out the latest trunk build right here (pick the .apk file). A word of warning though, it crashes. A lot.
It really works!
Luckily they've got tons of time to work the bugs out.
Firefox for Android has come a long way since the project hatched as "Fennec" many months ago - there is no doubt about that. What started as a bloated, slow, and buggy pile of crap (really, it was bad), is now one of the greatest browsers Android has to offer (add-ons ftw!). Don't get me wrong - it's still lacking quite a few features - notably, Flash support, faster font redraw on zooming, better startup times, etc., but Mozilla knows this and is working hard on the next version - 5.0.
Mozilla has announced a release candidate of Firefox 4 for Android and for Nokia Maemo.
Firefox 4 RC for Android features several updates including faster scrolling, a better and more responsive version of Firefox Sync, and an overall improvement in the user experience. Other features include: text reformatting on zoom, a slimmed down on-screen form helper and find-in-page function, copy and paste in form fields, character encoding and other smaller improvements since Beta 3.
Blocking obnoxious ads while browsing the web is something that I believe should come built-in to all browsers, or at least those on mobile devices with limited bandwidth. Although the beta version of Firefox 4 for Android (aka Fennec) released some time back, it was only yesterday that Adblock Plus released a development build for its seminal ad-blocking extension for the mobile version of Firefox.
According to the Adblock Plus devs, everything seems to be working smoothly, save for the following:
- do-not-track support is not working; and
- the number of synchronous requests needs to be reduced (on the to-do list)
Unfortunately, the user interface of ABP on the mobile version of Firefox is quite limited as you are only able to subscribe to one filter at a time.
As we've seen in the last few days, The Artist Formerly Known As Fennec has really been hitting its stride lately. Riding on this wave of improvement comes a shiny new Beta status, making Fennec now, officially, Firefox 4 For Android Beta.
We won't labour you with details, as many words have been written before about F4FA's arduous journey towards usability. Just get out there and download it.
You might also want to check out Mozilla's official blog post, and their little promotional video at the source link below.
We've seen Fennec (or Firefox for Android as it's now called) gradually progressing over the last few months, reaching a state of real usability in the last couple of weeks. There are many excited by Fennec's journey and the ability have a browser with near-full-desktop functionality, but it seems that even more struggle to see a place for another browser on their phone. After all, the stock Android browser is lightning-quick and works well enough for a pretty satisfying web experience.