It's been requested for years and in the making for months, and now the day has finally come: The Nightly version of Firefox for Android supports pull-to-refresh. A gesture first popularized (and patented) by Twitter back in 2010, it's quickly become as ubiquitous to phones as cars are to streets. Firefox was one of the few holdouts, with developers working out wonky behavior and interferences with some websites.
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.
As we all know, not all web browsers are the same. That's generally a good thing because we want diversity and creativity to drive innovation; but it also means some of the most beloved features in one browser may not be implemented in other browsers for a long time, if ever. This has been the case for a long time with one of Chrome's somewhat hidden power user features: swiping to change tabs. But if you're a Firefox user, you can look forward to getting this awesome feature fairly soon.
Google introduced a new way for developers to package web applications into Android apps last year, called Trusted Web Activities. The web apps run inside a modified Chrome Custom Tab, which meant that if your default browser wasn't Chrome (or based on Chrome), they would default to running in Google's browser. Firefox for Android has now added support for TWAs, so if Firefox is your default browser, the apps will run inside a Firefox container instead of Chrome.
If you thought the Google Chrome lineup was complicated with its stable, beta, dev, and Canary channels, you haven't looked into Firefox for Android. For a while, we had stable Firefox, Firefox Beta, Firefox Nightly, Firefox Preview, and Firefox Preview Nightly (not to mention the separate Firefox Focus) — truly a mess if you're just looking for the latest version of the completely rewritten new Firefox. That's finally changing, as Mozilla is starting to simplify its lineup, leaving only three versions: Firefox, Firefox Beta, and Firefox Nightly.
Firefox Preview has only received a significant update with version 5.2 with improved tab management and voice search a few days ago, but Mozilla is already working on the next feature-filled update. The unstable Nightly now supports three new add-ons and sees smaller refinements to the three-button overflow menu. The dead-space custom tab bug that's plaguing the current Firefox Preview build is also nowhere to be seen.
However many versions of Firefox you think there are on the Play Store, I can almost guarantee there are more. One of the numerous Firefox builds is getting a major update, and that signals big changes for the other versions. The Firefox Preview app that first launched last year is now moving into the Nightly channel. In the coming months, the old Firefox could be a thing of the past.
Firefox is finally addressing a big browsing annoyance. The browser's Nightly build can now block websites from automatically playing audio. This isn't a first; Chrome has had the same ability since April (and even longer on mobile). Still, it's a great feature, and a boon for Mozilla diehards.