The browser wars have seen a strange resurgence in the mobile world, as each platform brings its own-branded browser (Safari for iOS, Chrome for Android, IE for Windows Phone), and competitors see this as a new opportunity to gain more relevance after the desktop arena begins to settle. Mozilla certainly seems to think so as it starts to tease some new features it's currently working on for its Android-based Firefox app.
The Play Store's web market has come quite a long way since it was first announced back in February of 2011. Still, that doesn't mean it's perfect - among others, there are quite a few filter options still on the request list. For example, many users want to separate their free and paid apps in the My Apps interface. Thanks to a Greasemonkey script Artem just stumbled across, now you can.
The browser wars wage on in the mobile space just as it does on the desktop. Today, Mozilla fires another shot across Chrome's bow with Firefox 14 beta. The update, available in the Play Store, comes complete with a new UI, Flash support, and a bunch of other little improvements.
The new version comes with an updated minimum requirement of Android 2.2 or higher. The new UI shows its Froyo-y heritage, too.
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.
Jonathan Nightingale, Mozilla's director of Firefox Engineering, announced recently that Firefox's Android iteration will be moving away from XUL implementation in favor of a native Android UI. Nightingale, seeking to reassure users who may be wary of change, stated "Firefox on Android is a critical part of supporting the open web, and this decision puts us in a position to build the best Firefox possible."
For those not in the know, XUL stands for "XML User Interface Language," and is essentially a language that controls Firefox's front end architecture, creating various UI elements and instances.
If there is one thing that I'm always interested it, it's new browsers for my tablet. I can honestly say that I've used nearly every available browser in the Market - both optimized for Honeycomb and not. While I currently switch between Dolphin for Pad and the stock browser, I've been longing for a Honeycomb optimized version of Firefox for some time. It looks the Mozilla Mobile team heard my quiet cries, as they showed off some of the features of the upcoming browser in an official blog post earlier today.
The newest version of Firefox Beta for Android is out on the Market now, and it brings a slew of UI changes, performance improvements, and other fixes and enhancements. Just check out this condensed changelog:
New in this release for Android:
- New initial experience: Firefox starts faster and uses less memory. Get to your home page quickly and discover browser features on the side panels.
- Higher-quality image scaling: View crisp Web pages and images with less pixelation
- Enhanced Firefox experience on large screen tablets
- Improvements to the form helper on Android
- Fresh visual style on Gingerbread OS
- Optimization for pages that use right to left layout rendering, e.g.
If you liked my speedy QR code tips before, you're going to love the tip I have for you today. Ever since the Android web Market was launched, I found myself loading the homepage just to make a search approximately 17 million times a day, give or take a few. As you know, the web Market homepage is quite heavy, so loading it just to make a search, especially while tethering on a slow connection, was starting to get kind of annoying.
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.