Mozilla Previews Next Firefox for Android

Posted on June 27, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Mobile, Mozilla Firefox with 3 Comments

Today, Mozilla announced a public preview of Firefox Quantum for Android, which is powered by Mozilla’s own rendering engine, called GeckoView. Based on work it did previously with the Focus mobile app, this next Firefox mobile experience will offer better performance, better privacy, and a new Collections feature that will help users save, organize, and share web-based information.

“For several months, we’ve been working on a new strategy for our Android products to serve you even better,” Mozilla’s Vesta Zare announced. “Today we’re very happy to announce a pilot of our new browser for Android devices that is available to early adopters for testing as of now. We’ll have a feature-rich, polished version of this flagship application available for this fall.”

Firefox Preview, as this new preview version of Firefox Quantum for Android is temporarily called, is based on work that Mozilla previously did on a lightweight, and privacy-focused mobile browser alternative called Focus. But what Mozilla found is that its users wanted both a full-featured mobile browsing experience and the benefits of Focus. So, it is recasting Firefox mobile to do both, and creating a product that is analogous to Firefox Quantum on the desktop.

And yes, GeckoView is based on Mozilla’s own rendering engine and not the Blink-based Chromium rendering engine that other Android web browsers use.

“Firefox’s GeckoView engine ensures us and our users’ independence,” Mozilla explains. “Building Firefox for Android on GeckoView also results in greater flexibility in terms of the types of privacy and security features we can offer our mobile users. With GeckoView we have the ability to develop faster, more secure and more user-friendly browsers that deliver unprecedented performance.”

According to the firm, Firefox Preview is up to twice as fast as current versions of Firefox for Android, and its speed is further enhanced by a minimalist design. A new feature called Collections—which sounds similar to a feature Microsoft announced in May for the new Edge browser—will help users “save, organize, and share collections of sites … [and] wuickly save and return to tasks like your morning routine, shopping lists, travel planning and more.” And tracking protection will be enabled by default, of course. This will improve performance, too, and minimize annoyances.

The current version of Firefox Preview is aimed at developers and enthusiasts only, and is considered experimental for now. If you’re interested, you can find Firefox Preview on the Google Play Store.

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