Mozilla Firefox, along with Google Chrome, enjoys the distinction of being one of the most widely used desktop browsers. However, when discussing some of the best web browsers for smartphones and tablets, while Chrome for Android and Dolphin Browser HD are deemed as outright winners by most, Mozilla’s offering doesn’t cut the mustard for even hardcore Firefox fans. Despite living under the beta tag and receiving constant upgrades for quite some time now, the Android variant of Firefox has been a far cry as compared to its desktop counterpart. Things, however, started changing drastically with the last few updates, and with Firefox 14.0 now finally hitting the Play Store (after shedding the beta tag), Android users have been introduced to arguably the fastest, most feature-filled and elegant offering – at least by Mozilla’s standards.
Personally speaking, I have never been a huge fan of Firefox; neither on desktop nor on my Android. To add to that, despite improving on almost all the various fronts considerably, Firefox still has some ground to cover before it can start challenging the very best in the business, such as Chrome for Android, Dolphin Browser HDor even the stock ICS browser. To help our readers easily identify what they will and will not be getting with the latest iteration of Mozilla Firefox for Android, we have decided to compile a list of the present and missing features. Here’s how it goes:
- Faster app loading and webpage rendition, thanks largely to the folks over at Mozilla who finally decided to dump the XUL framework for the sake of developing the latest variant of their web browser according to the conventional Android goodies.
- The Awesome Screen feature that makes navigating to your most visited, bookmarked and recently visited websites a breeze.
- Option to access your desktop add-ons, bookmarks, passwords, preferences, history and tabs on your Android through the sync feature (didn’t work for me, at least).
- Gorgeously laid start page that not only lists your most frequently and last visited pages, but also shows your Firefox add-ons as well as synced tabs.
- Totally revamped tabbed browsing interface, with support for caching live thumbnails of the currently opened tabs.
- Improved control over privacy, cookie, history and password management, and the option to secure the app using a master password.
- Among other goodies, you get your usual download manager, cache cleaning option, text size alteration, private browsing, quick bookmarking, multi-touch zoom gestures, automatically center the zoomed area et al.
Missing Features & Glitches:
- No control over selection of User Agent (UA) string to open desired version of a website. Worse yet, the browser itself doesn’t accurately recognize what variant of the selected webpage to open. (Hint: try opening some simple websites like Google or Facebook).
- Having used the Dolphin, stock ICS browser and Chrome for Android for quite long, life without real-time search suggestions for websites now seems bit incomplete – a fact that I realized after trying out the latest Firefox for Android.
- Despite supporting Flash, the app constantly keeps asking to install the latest update. Moreover, Flash content won’t play at all on tablets and non-ICS Tegra 2 devices. As far as rendition of HTML5- based content goes, both Chrome for Android as well as Dolphin Browser HD are clear winners there.
- If you’re looking to excerpt some piece of content from the currently opened webpage with Firefox, you’re out of luck. Yes, there is the option to save each webpage as a PDF file and save images locally, but you won’t be able to copy desired text from the selected webpage.
- Ad-Block, the favorite add-on of many Firefox fans, seems to have been removed from the mix.
To cut it short, while all aforementioned ‘available’ features are undoubtedly a welcome addition to the arsenal of the Android variant of Firefox, we can’t see the app immediately replacing your current Android browser, especially if you’re a Chrome, Dolphin or the stock ICS browser user. Hopefully, Mozilla will continue to keep putting in the hard yards to improve their product to a level where it can seriously stake its claim as being one of the most complete Android browsers. Firefox 14 for Android is available in the Google Play Store for free, and requires Android v2.2 or higher to run. The link provided below will take you to the Play Store page of Firefox for Android.