Mozilla's Firefox unit has been hard at work developing a new browsing experience bringing together the best of its two most popular applications and the company is now ready to release its first beta in a new Android app.
Currently dubbed Firefox Preview, the new browser is comprised of key elements of Firefox and Firefox Focus and is powered by the same GeckoView engine underpinning the latter.
Firefox says that doesn't just mean improvements over the more traditional Firefox releases in terms of usability, security, privacy, or efficiency. It also places the new experience within a very select group of browsers that don't rely on Google's Chromium-based Blink engine — and as the only "major" browser that isn't powered by Blink.
What does that mean for Firefox users?
By releasing a new fully-featured browser with a renewed dedication to privacy and security on its own in-house technology, Firefox is positioning itself as a true Chrome competitor in a Google-dominated industry. The goal here is to offer a viable alternative that isn't dependant on Google for changes and new features following a few less-than-popular decisions by the search giant — such as its decision to change how ad-blockers need to be programmed.
That doesn't have come at a sacrifice to performance either and certainly won't be lacking in the design category.
Although the browser in question is still considered to be in an early beta format and will likely encounter at least a few bugs, Firefox claims it is up to two times faster than previous browsers the team has released. That's likely to only improve as testing continues throughout the beta leading up to the full-fledged launch.
Tracking Protections for users will be turned on by default in the new browser as well, meaning that users won't need to worry about ads tracking their activity across the web — in direct contrast to claims about Google's above-mentioned decision.
Meanwhile, there are a couple of new features in the mix too that should help it compete with other apps.
First, the start screen for the new browser will be minimal and the URL bar will be placed at the bottom to put everything needed to navigate around the web quickly well-within thumbs reach. Another new feature called "Collections" will serve as a list of quick-access bookmarks for websites and web activities complete with a custom organization structure and sharing features.
This probably won't be called "Preview" when it launches
Since this is a beta program, it's unlikely that it will still be called Firefox Preview when it lands but the company hasn't provided any details regarding what it might be called. Instead, Firefox hints that this new browser will serve as a gateway into new browsing experiences somewhat akin to how Google's Chrome browser is available in separate channels for developers, testers, and end users.
Firefox Preview is, as its name implies, seems intended to garner feedback as an experimental browser and should lead to an entirely revamped experience for end users, keeping what works and making improvements where possible.
That's not all good news for fans of another Firefox browser though since the company simultaneously revealed that Firefox Focus development is being placed on hold. It will still be available for download but the move makes sense since Firefox Preview and the browser it's intended to launch effectively have the same features that make Focus unique.
A more stable variant of the new browser is slated for a wider launch at some point this fall but users can check out an experimental early version of the app right now.