New Firefox for Android

Speaking of alternative browsers for mobile OSes, here’s Jared Newman on the all-new Firefox for Android:

On my Samsung Galaxy S II, the new Firefox glides smoothly through any web page, whether it’s optimized for mobile browsing or not. The sidebar menus are gone, so when you want to switch tabs or open a new one, you tap a little “plus” icon in the top-right corner, and a list of thumbnail images drops down from the top of the screen. When you tap on the address bar, up pops a list of your most-visited sites, bookmarks and browsing history. Overall, text looks more modern, and pages are easier to read.

I’ve tried it on a Galaxy Nexus, and it’s a vast improvement. Rendering, scaling, and scrolling are all pretty good — and none of those things were acceptable in the previous mobile version of Firefox. They’ve got a long way to go, though:

If you think of the new Firefox for Android as version 1.0 — technically, it’s not — some of its omissions are understandable. At the moment you can’t select text on a page, find text within a page or get search suggestions as you type in the address bar. All those features are coming soon, Nightingale said, along with a “readability mode” that renders text and images cleanly on the page. Mozilla’s also working on a new tablet-optimized version of Firefox for Android.

And they’re up against Chrome for Android, which is really good — arguably in the same class as Mobile Safari.

Thursday, 28 June 2012