If you’re either a Firefox fan on the desktop, or have been following Mozilla’s development of its Fennec browser, this is for you. The Beta has landed!
Firefox 4 isn’t on the Android Market yet, but just head over to Mozilla’s mobile beta page, and you can click to download. That is, unless you have a smartphone that doesn’t let you install non-Market apps.
We’ve been covering the development of this browser as Mozilla’s worked on it. First codenamed Fennec (a small fox), the mobile browser was renamed Firefox 4 to match the desktop browser version. Fennec was first developed for Nokia’s Maemo operating system, with Android having to wait its turn. But this allowed Android users to know what was coming when the Android port became available.
You won’t get everything that your desktop Firefox browser can do, but here’s what Firefox 4 mobile can do for you right now:
Add-Ons: Extra widgets and mini-apps that make your browser more powerful. The Beta app has Google search, Amazon, Twitter and Wikipedia add-ons already installed. You can browse available mobile add-ons here. Have a look, there are dozens already there, and developers are writing more.
Awesome Bar: Allows you to search with less typing as it brings up sites you’ve already visited or common search terms.
Location-Aware Browsing: You can choose to send your location from your GPS to a website to get localized content and maps.
Share: One touch allows you to share a webpage over Facebook, Twitter, or Email
Start Page: Features “session restore” which saves your tabs, plus synchronize tabs from your desktop computer via Sync.
Sync: Bring your desktop history, bookmarks, passwords, and open tabs to your mobile. Firefox’s sync process allows you to synchronize your desktop set-up with any other computer you use, so now you can take your bookmarks and the like to your mobile.
Touch-Friendly Interface: Swipe to the left or right to access browser controls, rather than have buttons taking up your valuable screen real estate.
Zoom: Pinch-zoom is enabled, or double tap to zoom in, double tap again to zoom back out.
Firefox 4 is not the first Android browser to feature add-ons, but it is the first one encouraging third-party developers to write them. I’ve been a fan of Dolphin Browser HD for a while, but it looks like the Firefox community has already made more add-ons available than Dolphin has.
Firefox 4 Beta requires Android OS 2.0 or higher to run. The list of supported devices is not long, but Mozilla also has an unsupported device list that “may work.” The issue is that Firefox was optimized for ARM v7 processors.
Supported Devices – Tested
- HTC Desire
- HTC EVO 4G
- HTC Google Nexus One
- Motorola Droid 2
Supported Devices – Not Tested
- HTC Desire Z (T-Mobile G2)
- HTC Droid Incredible
- Motorola Droid X
- Motorola Milestone (Verizon Droid) That’s what the site says, but a Milestone is a DROID sold outside the US.
- Samsung I9000 Galaxy S (AT&T Captivate, Verizon Fascinate, T-Mobile Vibrant, Sprint Epic 4G)
Is your smartphone on this list? If so, check out Firefox now!