Mozilla has announced the new beta version of Firefox 4 Mobile is available for download on both Maemo and Android phones. The last version was a little rough, and the developers claim to have taken user suggestions to heart in this release. Among the improvements are a much reduced install size on Android devices (17MB instead of 43MB), improved text rendering, and lower memory usage. The app also supports app2sd storage on Froyo phones.
With features like slide out toolbars, Firefox Sync, and future hardware acceleration, Firefox Mobile could really be a great browser upon completion. If you have an N900, or high-end Android phone, check out the beta.
Mozilla points to the frustration developers experience trying to get their applications onto multiple platforms. They hope Fennec will put an end to that by making web apps the standard. The Firefox creators are hoping to position the new browser to take advantage of the future of web apps, which they claim will win. But didn’t we hear this when the iPhone launched? Apparently Mozilla thinks it will be different this time around.
Mozilla is baking all sorts of goodies into the new mobile browser to try to get mobile users to make the switch. There will be a mobile version of the “Awesomebar” as well as extension support. Current Firefox users will also be able to have their history and tabs sync down to the mobile device. The browser will be out the N900 soon (betas are available now), and on Windows Mobile and Android early next year. The iPhone? Probably not.
Despite its popularity on PCs, Firefox has been noticeably absent from the mobile market, which has been left mostly to WebKit-based browsers. “If things go smoothly, says Jay Sullivan, Mozilla’s vice president for mobile platforms, “we'll have a version out in the next few weeks.”
Firefox mobile is based on the same code as Firefox 3.6, a beta version of which is now available for PCs. And, using a plug-in called Weave, the mobile version will be able to sync bookmarks and passwords with its PC sibling. (It’ll have it’s own logo, though: the Pocketfox! The fennec was unavailable for comment.)
Firefox is expected to be first available for the Nokia N900, with later roll-outs for Windows Mobile and Android smartphones.