The brand new Firefox for Android rolled out to everyone last month, but it still lacks the broad extension support that made the original browser so popular. To quote Douglas Adams, "this had made many people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move." Thankfully, experimental support for sideloading any Firefox extension has now arrived in the Nightly branch.
Mozilla has been working on a rewritten version of Firefox for Android, designed to be faster and easier to maintain, and it started rolling out to the stable channel last week. Even though the new version is absolutely an upgrade in some areas, replacing the older browser before the newer codebase had all the same features has proven to be an unpopular move.
Earlier this month, Google whitelisted a few extensions for kids' Chromebooks managed via Family Link, like Zoom, Hangouts, and some educational tools — only installable with parental permission, of course. This makes life easier for those who need to rely on video conferences for learning during these stay-at-home times, but it's still a tiny selection. To improve the situation, Google is now testing support for all extensions on managed Chromebooks in Chrome OS 83+ (we tested using Dev 83 and 84).
Google Chrome hasn't implemented the extreme level of tracker/ad blocking that we've seen in other web browsers over the past few years (I'm sure Google's position as an advertising company has nothing to do with that), but it has been taking small steps. Google has proposed new web standards that would make fingerprinting and cross-site tracking much more difficult, and now the company is announcing some browser-level features that aim to improve privacy and security.
The Chrome Web Store is still something of a wild west — seemingly every month, there's a story about some popular extension stealing user data or doing something else it's not supposed to do. Google has already made several policy changes lately, and its next target is spammy extensions.
Kiwi made a name for itself as one of the only browsers that support extensions on Android. The app has also innovated on other parts of the Chromium base by adding a custom implementation of dark mode and by shipping with another take on a bottom bar interface that looks a lot like Google's early attempts at that design. Over the weekend, the developer has decided to make the software open source in order to share these achievements with others interested in building Chromium-based browsers.
The Chrome Web Store is undergoing a transformation, as Google seeks to phase out Chrome apps entirely. Extensions are still sticking around, but now the company has placed a ban on paid extensions, leaving some developers frustrated.
Back in October, Wladimir Palant, developer of the popular AdBlock Plus browser extension, published a blog post outlining how extensions from security company Avast/AVG were collecting massive amounts of data from users. In a somewhat-belated response, Google has now removed some of Avast's extensions from the Chrome Web Store.
Samsung Internet Browser is one of the few examples of OEM-designed apps that many people want to use over Google's equivalents. Ever since Samsung officially started supporting non-Galaxy phones, the browser has become one of the most popular for Android, thanks to its (minimal) extensions support, excellent dark mode, and fast Chromium-based core. Now the browser is adding support for even more types of extensions, but there are a few catches.