File Under: Browsers, Mobile

Firefox Storms the Small Screen With New Firefox 4 for Android

Firefox 4 on Android.

Mozilla has released Firefox Mobile for Android and Maemo, bringing the company’s mobile browser up to par with the new desktop version of Firefox 4. Mozilla claims Mobile Firefox 4 is up to three times faster than Android’s default web browser, and offers syncing features you won’t find in any other mobile browser.

Android fans can grab a copy of Firefox 4 from the Android marketplace. Note that Firefox 4 for Android requires a ARMv7 CPU and 512 MB RAM. Sorry original Droid owners, you’re out of luck. If you’ve got a Maemo phone you can download Firefox 4 from Mozilla.

The first official release of Mobile Firefox 4 isn’t a stripped down version of what you’ll find on the desktop. In fact, it uses the same Gecko rendering engine as its desktop sibling, along with the same JavaScript compiler and the same HTML5 support, which means the latest and greatest on the web should be plenty speedy on your phone too.

Like Firefox 4 on the desktop, the mobile variant can handle themes and add-ons, though the desktop add-ons won’t work — you’ll need to find the mobile equivalent. Because this is the first real release of Mobile Firefox, the add-on offerings aren’t as extensive as what you’ll find for the desktop, but several popular add-ons — like AdBlock Plus and Readability — are already available.

Perhaps the best part of Firefox Mobile is the syncing capabilities, which best what you’ll find in Google’s default Android browser (or Mobile Safari on the iPhone for that matter). Just turn on Firefox Sync on your desktop and any bookmarks, passwords and, most importantly, open tabs, will be available on your phone.

Mobile Firefox 4′s syncing features mean you can walk away from the desktop and pick up exactly where you left off on your phone. If you use Chrome to Phone to sync your desktop and mobile browsing on Android, Mobile Firefox’s offering is similar, but it syncs in both directions and “just works” with no effort on your part.

Mobile Firefox 4 is also notable for one thing it lacks — Flash support. Given that no version of Firefox supports H.264 video — typically the fallback for mobile devices that don’t support Flash — the lack of Flash in Mobile Firefox may be a bit more of a problem than it is for Mobile Safari users.

You can check out Mobile Firefox 4 in action in the video below, which does a nice job of demonstrating the usefulness of the syncing features.

Photo: Johan Larsson/Flickr

See Also: