All posts tagged ‘Firefox Mobile’

File Under: Browsers

Firefox for Android Preps for Prime Time

Mozilla has released an update for its Firefox for Android beta mobile web browser. The latest beta sports a redesigned interface that looks a little less like Firefox and a little more like a native Android application.

If you’d like to help Mozilla test this beta, head on over to the Android marketplace and download a copy today. Unlike the recently updated Chrome for Android, which requires the latest and greatest Android Ice Cream Sandwich, Firefox for Android will run on Android Froyo 2.2 and better (it is, for the moment, only available in English, though).

The newest Firefox for Android beta is — despite looking a bit different from the early mobile releases — still pretty much the Firefox you know and love, with support for mobile add-ons, tabbed browsing and Firefox Sync, as well as the mobile-friendly “Awesome Screen.”

The Awesome Screen is similar feature-wise to the Awesome Bar in desktop Firefox, but tweaked to make mobile browsing and searching easier. To use it, just tap the location bar and you’ll see a list of your favorite bookmarks, history items and search engines.

Mozilla says the latest Firefox for Android beta starts up faster and some improvements to the underlying code should make for faster response times, better graphics performance and smoother panning and zooming. And while it’s not the only Android browser to do so, Flash fans will be happy to know that Firefox for Android continues to ship with Flash despite Adobe’s decision to stop developing the mobile Flash plugin.

The major focus for this beta release is getting the new native interface in Firefox for Android ready for prime time, so if you do decide to test it, be sure to let Mozilla know if you encounter any bugs.

File Under: Mobile, Multimedia

Damn the Torpedos: Mozilla Adds Flash to Firefox for Android

Adobe may be abandoning Mobile Flash, but Mozilla is pushing forward with Flash in Firefox for Mobile. In addition to the new native Android UI we recently showcased, the latest nightly builds of Firefox for Android now offer experimental support for the Flash plugin.

If you’d like to give it a try, head over to the Mozilla nightly builds page and download a copy of Firefox for Android (note that if you have the beta release installed you’ll need to remove that first). Once the download is finished just open the file to complete the installation and setup.

The nightly builds are, obviously, not stable releases, but I took the latest version for a spin on a Dell Venue and had no problems watching Flash movies. Or I should say no technical problems with Firefox for Android. The browser didn’t crash and Flash worked as advertised in that it loaded and attempted to play movies. Sadly playback was jittery at best, often fell out of sync with the audio and more or less made a good argument for why Flash doesn’t work well on under-powered mobile devices (all testing was done over wifi).

Flash’s lackluster performance isn’t Firefox’s fault, but that probably won’t stop users from blaming the browser. In truth how well Flash performs in Firefox for Android will vary considerably based on your phone’s hardware.

While Flash on mobile is imperfect enough that even Adobe is done with it, Mozilla reports that 21 percent of Firefox for Android’s 1 and 2 star reviews come from users requesting support for Flash. For those that have been waiting for Flash, rest assured, Firefox for Mobile is indeed getting Flash support, though the final version won’t arrive until Firefox 10 ships early in 2012.

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File Under: Browsers, Mobile

Test Drive Firefox for Android Today

Firefox on the smaller screen

Mozilla has released an early preview build of its coming Firefox for Tablets web browser. Currently in development for Android 3.0, the Mozilla Mobile Team hasn’t hinted at a release date yet, but interested developers can start playing with a rough build in the Fennec Nightly channel.

To try out Firefox for Tablets head over to Mozilla’s Nightly Builds website and download the Mobile release for Android.

The Nightly channel is the starting point for new features in Firefox’s new rapid release cycle, so be aware that this is very rough, pre-alpha software designed for testing.

So far Firefox for Tablets is looking like a slightly tweaked version of its smaller sibling, Firefox for phones. Writing about the coming tablet build of Firefox earlier this year Ian Barlow, Mozilla’s mobile user experience designer, called Firefox for Tablets “an evolution of its phone based predecessor, with some added enhancements that take advantage of a tablet’s larger screen size.”

The new rough builds in the nightly channel look very close to the mockups Barlow posted earlier. The primary visual difference from the smaller screen version of Firefox for Mobile is the new persistent tab bar to the left of the screen (when in landscape mode). Rotate the tablet around to portrait mode and the tab bar disappears up into a menu item at the top of the screen, leaving more room for actual web content.

If you’ve been missing a tablet-optimized Firefox on that new fire sale TouchPad you picked up, this early preview of Firefox for Tablets should give you something to look forward to, though it will still be some time before Firefox for Tablets is ready for prime time.

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File Under: Browsers

Mozilla Shows Off Firefox for Tablets

Firefox on the smaller screen

Mozilla is showing off some mockups of what Firefox might look like on a tablet. Currently in development for Android 3.0, the Mozilla Mobile Team hasn’t yet announced a release date, but the early design mockups reveal a sleek, Android-looking Firefox.

The tablet version of Firefox will be, according to Ian Barlow, Mozilla’s mobile user experience designer, “an evolution of its phone based predecessor, with some added enhancements that take advantage of a tablet’s larger screen size.”

“On Firefox for phones, we meticulously tucked away all of our UI elements,” writes Barlow, “on a tablet, the bigger screen let us to bring some of those helpful elements back onto the screen, like tabs, for example.”

To that end the mockups on Barlow’s site show a persistent tab bar to the left of the screen when using a tablet in landscape mode. The tabs stay out of the way, but still make it easy to switch between tabs. Rotate the tablet around to portrait mode and the tab bar disappears up into a menu item at the top of the screen, leaving more room for actual content.

Of course it’s all up in the air right now and there’s no telling when we’ll see an actual release of Firefox for tablets. In the mean time if you’d like to see more of his mockups of a tablet UI for Firefox, head over to Barlow’s Flickr stream.

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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

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