Today Mozilla have launched a revamped version of Firefox for Android which promises to make it faster and easier to browse the web.
Despite enjoying considerable success in the desktop market, up until now Mozilla have failed to make Firefox for Android a compelling proposition.
User ratings of 3.6 stars paint a patchy picture compared to mobile rivals like Opera Mini (4.4 stars) and Dolphin (4.7 stars).
We expected a lot more from Mozilla considering the potential marketing and goodwill crossover from their popular desktop browser – this new version could be the answer.
Speed – Improvements include faster start up and page load times, quicker panning and zooming and enhanced web app performance. Of course most mobile browsers claim Ferrari, not Ford, performance but Mozilla’s claims are boosted by industry benchmarks e.g. Sunspider which rate it significantly faster than the stock Android browser.
Mozilla have also devised their own new benchmark called Eideticker that aims to measure the actual user web experience – not just synthetic testing of graphical performance. Whilst this benchmark is arguably subjective, the results are startling and early user indications appear to confirm at least a major improvement in this version.
More info on Eideticker is available here – the Canvas rendering performance graph below is based on this new benchmark:
The new Awesome Screen (effectively a Home Page) can synchronize your browsing history, bookmarks, passwords and form data to your Android phone (if you have Firefox Sync enabled in the desktop edition).
Tabbed browsing, Firefox Sync and Firefox Add-ons have all been optimized for mobile browsing whilst tabs have become curved instead of rectangular (also coming soon to the desktop Firefox version).
Firefox for Android now supports Flash content as well as HTML5 which should help better display most video and games sites.
Also making a new appearance is Do Not Track – a privacy feature (already in the desktop edition) which tells websites not to track you for advertising purposes.
Download the new Firefox for Android from Google Play here.
Overview Of New Features
It’s too early to say if the new Firefox for Android will tempt mobile users to switch browsers but it certainly offers welcome improvements over the old version.
It should appeal particularly to users of Firefox on the desktop – an existing large market for Mozilla to tap (if you’ll excuse the pun) into by providing better synergy between the two platforms.
What do you think of the new version – will it tempt you to make the switch for mobile browsing?