Mozilla announces Firefox 4 beta for mobile

Mozilla announced on their blog today that Mozilla Firefox 4 Beta for Mobile devices is now available for the general public to use, after early alpha testing of Fennec proved to be a success.

The Firefox 4 Beta attempts to bring Mozilla's mobile offering in line with the desktop browser and the team says that the major focus of the beta was speed and responsiveness -- if you were a tester for the Fennec Alpha, you would know how slow the browser performed -- Mozilla has aimed to make the browser as quick as possible with some large architecture changes.

The beta includes Firefox Sync with desktop versions of Firefox (either through the sync extension or the built in sync in Firefox 4), offers multi-touch, the awesome bar (much like on the desktop browser) and also offers a new feature; The "Awesome Screen" which "instantly gives you access to your recent history, bookmarks and tabs just by tapping in the Awesome Bar."

Firefox 4 Mobile Beta also includes support for HTML5, CSS and Javascript, as well as being the first mobile browser to support add ons. Firefox 4 beta 1 is available for download on the Android platform (2.0 and higher) and on the Nokia N900.

Update: A bit of a warning, when this was tried here at Neowin, our test device (HTC Legend) boot looped and lost all apps installed on the SD card. Also, you won't be able to install this one unless you've got 53MB of spare internal space. Tread carefully. 

Update 2: System Requirements: Android 2.0 or higher, OpenGL ES2.0, 256 MB RAM, 40 MB phone storage available

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Apple's latest iPhone 4 problem - Glassgate

Next Story

World of Warcraft reaches 12 million subscribers

35 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

What opera does with text on any phone is the ****. All you do is move up and down NOT up down right and left just to read a site now that stupid. Yes opera does not look the best on the iPhone but if you are reading something on a site anything else compares

FloatingFatMan said,
53MB!?!? They can get stuffed!

nlike browsers that use the stock WebKit library, Fennec must ship its rendering libraries in its APK file. Many Android phones were built with 64 MB to 512 MB of storage for apps. Users who think nothing of a 12 MB download to install Firefox or Chrome on a laptop may think twice before installing it on one of these phones! Storage space is much larger on most new phones, but this is still an issue for many users.

Even worse, a quirk of the Android NDK means these native libraries are saved in two places - compressed inside the APK, and extracted to a folder for loading. For apps like Firefox that are mostly native code, this more than doubles the installation size. Other NDK apps like Google Earth pay the same double storage penalty.

To solve this problem, Mozilla's Michael Wu is writing a custom dynamic linker that loads libraries from the APK without installing them to a folder. This cuts the installed size by more than half, but increases startup time slightly. For newer phones with 1 GB or more of internal storage, we might choose to let Firefox take more space but start faster. On phones with less storage, we can use the custom linker to save space.

Firefox 4 beta 1 needs about 40 MB of storage on Android. Under Android 2.2 you can move the APK to your SD card, but the extracted libraries stay in internal storage. With the custom linker Firefox will be much smaller, and you'll be able to move more of it to SD.

- Aaron (Mozilla QA)

40 MB phone storage is totally crazy for those who have HTC Desire. I hardly got 10MB left. make it installable in SD card or keep failing. I don't understand developers. Froyo give you the ability to make apps installable in SD and no one use it. They need to know Android is not Symbian or iOS. WE HAVE BIG STORAGE ISSUES ON PHONE MEMORY

whatthe...it requires 40mb of phone storage.

Firefox 4 beta 6 requires about 33mb of storage on my laptop (though not counting temporary stored files and cache).

I mean,come on people, dolphin browser hd is only like 5mb installed, and it supports addons as well?

Mozilla should really explain the need for requiring the amount of phone storage...

morphen said,
whatthe...it requires 40mb of phone storage.

Firefox 4 beta 6 requires about 33mb of storage on my laptop (though not counting temporary stored files and cache).

I mean,come on people, dolphin browser hd is only like 5mb installed, and it supports addons as well?

Mozilla should really explain the need for requiring the amount of phone storage...

Unlike browsers that use the stock WebKit library, Fennec must ship its rendering libraries in its APK file. Many Android phones were built with 64 MB to 512 MB of storage for apps. Users who think nothing of a 12 MB download to install Firefox or Chrome on a laptop may think twice before installing it on one of these phones! Storage space is much larger on most new phones, but this is still an issue for many users.

Even worse, a quirk of the Android NDK means these native libraries are saved in two places - compressed inside the APK, and extracted to a folder for loading. For apps like Firefox that are mostly native code, this more than doubles the installation size. Other NDK apps like Google Earth pay the same double storage penalty.

To solve this problem, Mozilla's Michael Wu is writing a custom dynamic linker that loads libraries from the APK without installing them to a folder. This cuts the installed size by more than half, but increases startup time slightly. For newer phones with 1 GB or more of internal storage, we might choose to let Firefox take more space but start faster. On phones with less storage, we can use the custom linker to save space.

Firefox 4 beta 1 needs about 40 MB of storage on Android. Under Android 2.2 you can move the APK to your SD card, but the extracted libraries stay in internal storage. With the custom linker Firefox will be much smaller, and you'll be able to move more of it to SD.

- Aaron (Mozilla QA)

First mobile browser to support addons? Please. Dolphin HD is much better than this bloated crap. I prefer Firefox on the desktop - running 4 beta 6 on both my Mac and XP machine - but this has a long way to go before it claims the default browser spot on my Milestone.

tcm said,
First mobile browser to support addons? Please. Dolphin HD is much better than this bloated crap. I prefer Firefox on the desktop - running 4 beta 6 on both my Mac and XP machine - but this has a long way to go before it claims the default browser spot on my Milestone.

and skyfire on my lg gt540 is much faster than firefox 4 on dual core pc ^^

Meh. I would love to use this. But right now my new iPhone 4 is in the back of a van for delivery today.

Thank Android. The legend killed my love for you.

UncleSpellbinder said,
Too bad most people are unsupported. Only supporting Maemo and Android??? What a joke.

Who else is there? Surely you don't consider the iphone as "most people".

Prefer the stock browser myself. This used up 40 something megs of space and it's somewhat slower than the stock browser.

Uninstalled until it's a lot more polished.

david said,
If it's not webkit, I don't want it!!!!!

Webkit will only be better when it gets animated png support.

Joshie said,

You want a monopoly in the browser market?


You're saying he should install this just so WebKit doesn't monopolize the market?

.Neo said,

You're saying he should install this just so WebKit doesn't monopolize the market?

No, he's saying that if Mozilla goes WebKit, it would assist a lot in WebKit monopolizing the market.

A single user (instead of a company and their browsers) won't make the same difference, OF COURSE.

iPhone please, lol.

Firefox home is essentially pointless, if they can get Opera on the iPhone, why not Firefox, I know I would like to use it and have Firefox Sync working properly instead of having to use Firefox Home that just uses Safari in a way that just isn't comfortable.

Corris said,
iPhone please, lol.

Firefox home is essentially pointless, if they can get Opera on the iPhone, why not Firefox, I know I would like to use it and have Firefox Sync working properly instead of having to use Firefox Home that just uses Safari in a way that just isn't comfortable.


Have you used Opera on iPhone? Its terrible! I understand that it is meant to be more data efficient in the way it does things...but the interface is just...clunky..slow...barely usable (got hand it to Opera, they are consistent). Apple probably allowed it because they weren't threatened by it. Firefox on the other hand...

Corris said,
iPhone please, lol.

Firefox home is essentially pointless, if they can get Opera on the iPhone, why not Firefox, I know I would like to use it and have Firefox Sync working properly instead of having to use Firefox Home that just uses Safari in a way that just isn't comfortable.

Opera Mini is not really Opera, like Firefox Mobile is Firefox. The only difference between the two firefox versions is the UI. Opera Mini shares almost no similarities with desktop or even the real mobile opera.

Corris said,
if they can get Opera on the iPhone, why not Firefox
I was under the impression that Opera on the iPhone actually uses the same engine as Safari on the phone and theres possibly some server side component that formats the pages for the mobile screen or whatever and compresses things. I don't think Opera on the iPhone uses it's own engine however.

Smigit said,
I was under the impression that Opera on the iPhone actually uses the same engine as Safari on the phone and theres possibly some server side component that formats the pages for the mobile screen or whatever and compresses things. I don't think Opera on the iPhone uses it's own engine however.

Opera Mini doesn't have render engine at all on client side. Opera Mobile does. Opera Mini just renders the picture which is parsed and processed by the server. It's impossible to make Opera Mobile on iOS because iOS lacks of open native development environments. I.e. it's just a phone, not smartphone.

Singh400 said,
"after early alpha testing of Fennec proved to be a success"

You are joking, right? Fennec was absolutely awful.

It was terribly slow, but I didn't have many issues aside from that.

Only played with it briefly though, as it wasn't my phone I used it on.

Blasius said,

It was terribly slow, but I didn't have many issues aside from that.

Only played with it briefly though, as it wasn't my phone I used it on.

Compared to the Android leaders like Dolphin and Opera it plainly sucks. Not to mention its hugely bloated install size - over 30MB IIRC.

However, I'm not knocking Mozilla for getting into mobile browsers. I'm all for more competition.