This isn't the first time we've seen the Firefox mobile browser running on Android, but it's the first time that Mozilla's been comfortable enough with it to compile the app for us mere mortals to test out.
Why do we care so much about another browser for Android when the stock Webkit browser works pretty darn well? Two words: Mozilla Weave. Being able to sync your history, bookmarks and even open tabs between your desktop and mobile browser is something I've been wanting since first hearing about Fennec. And we're getting closer.
Note that this is still very early in the development stage. While anyone can download and install this build of Fennec, it will crash. It will hang. It's a little buggy. And it's very cool that Mozilla lets us play with it this early in its life, so don't judge it too harshly. A few warnings from Mozilla's Vladimir Vukićević:
- We've only really tested this on the Motorola Droid and the Nexus One.
- It will likely not eat your phone, but bugs might cause your phone to stop responding, requiring a reboot.
- Memory usage of this build isn't great -- in many ways it's a debug build, and we haven't really done a lot of optimization yet. This could cause some problems with large pages, especially on low memory devices like the Droid.
- You'll see the app exit and relaunch on first start, as well as on add-on installs; this is a quirk of our install process, and we're working to get rid of it.
- You can't open links from other apps using Fennec; we should have this for the next build.
Anyhoo, you can download Fennec here. (FWIW: Mozilla tested with the Nexus One and Droid -- your mileage may vary -- and it does NOT work if you're running Apps2SD.) And be sure to read Vlad's blog for complete instructions and troubleshooting, including instructions for installing Weave.
And check out our hands-on video after the break.