Today, FireFox 4 Beta 1 for Android and Maemo was announced earlier today. This is the continuation of Mozillia’s mobile browser development efforts, and the rebranding of Fennec, to give a continuous browser presence across different platforms.
Since Mozilla announced that they were discontinuing WinMo development for Fennec, and considering the last alpha I tried was so abysmal, I haven’t paid much attention to it. Having migrated to Android, this announcement led me to some frenzied testing today.
So first of all I tried the last alpha, still branded Fennec, and have now spent a bit of time with this beta. I have to admit there are some nice touches, but straight up I’ll say, it’s huge, the .apk is 11.8 Mb, so if you aren’t on Froyo, this is a big hit to your internal memory. It’s power hungry, I’m running a custom ROM, and Overclocked Kernel, on my HTC Desire, and had to run full 1113 Mhz to get it to be smooth. It had the Desire running noticeably hot though. Download speeds were not great, running on HSPDA, it often timed out, and even Mozilla info sites were 404 erroring quite a bit. For all of that there are some real nice bells and whistles…
There are some slick features, and there are even add-ons available, on tha got me straight away, and these have been present since the first iterations of Fennec, is quick menu selection, swipe right or left for different browser options.
If you swipe left, you get bookmarks and tabs, now in the bookmarks and History tab you can search directly, through
Google, Amazon, Twitter or Wikipedia, these are all included add-ons, but it’s a really handy touch. You can also see, that it also reveals your open tabs, I had up to eight tabs open at once before it became a real performance killer, but I never once had a force close error. Swipe left, and you get forward back and auto add favourite, at the top, and settings link down the bottom.
Settings wise it’s pretty straight forward and self explanatory, you can also see download history, and best of all, a tab for add-ons. FireFox Sync is also now supported, bringing your desktop links to your mobile.
This is becoming a great package, lot’s of finesse and thought has gone into this build. Wile it’s a work in progress, it still gave me occasion to smile, and the obvious progress from the last alpha is very evident. Overall, this is about a 6 out of 10 at the moment, download and rendering, especially pinch to zoom support, are laggy, but not unbearable for a Beta. Worth a try, just to get an idea of how this will be going forward!
Update: Firefox 4 is able to be move to SD card but total app size on device equals over 43 MB, that’s a no no 🙁