Firefox Fennec browser on Android

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.

 

Reader comments

Hands-on with the Firefox browser for Android phones

27 Comments

Looks promising, although I'll probably stick to the built-in browser, unless Weave is as amazing as you say...

*goes to try out Fennec*

Use X-marks, instead. Bonus: it's cross-platform, so you can use it on Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and IE.
No X-marks for Fennec yet, though.

And the blog post said you had to use an experimental version of Weave with Fennec for Android, found on the Mozilla Labs site, but that version isn't working for me.

Yes this is good news indeed! I'm still waiting for a browser to get it all right ;-p I would expect Mozilla to be the one to do this if anyone could. Right now I use a rotation of Opera Mini, Dolphin, and the stock browser and would really love a solid go-to browser for all my needs! I'm really excited about Fennec! As soon as I get my Incredible I might give it a try. Or maybe wait for a less buggy version if I can hold off...

PS: Weave sounds amazing. Can't wait to see it on the released version. I'm constantly going from my desktop or laptop browser to my mobile browser, or visa versa.

Wow. Before this, the only Weave I've ever known starts to smell really bad when it gets sweaty on top of some chick's head @ the club. LMAO...sorry, it was just impossible to resist!

{{^_^}}

Ha... just installed SkyFire. I tried Fennec before and it wouldn't work. Might have been the rom. I'll give it another go :)

The left and right scrolling for the 2 menus looks annoying and too easy to do accidentally, hopefully it gets changed at some point.

"fennec.apk could not be installed on this phone."

Don't you take it personally, MyTouch. You know you're better than this. We'll show them. We'll show 'em good!

I guess I'll be the first to actually post a response as a review of the browser. It's great! It's definitely a little buggy, but the potential is uncanny. The sliding tabs and options work great. I'm excited for the final version. Awesome job Mozilla!! (tested on Droid w/ 2.1)

@trenen's got the right idea. Look at this for its potential. It in no way is meant to be a complete browser. It's pre-Alpha. We're lucky Fennec is open-source and we even get to try it at this level of development.

It actually looks very clean and was stable for me running CyanogenMod V0.6 at 1Ghz on my Droid. Still has aways to go before it will surpass the best Android browser there is (xScope)... but I really like it. It is nice eye candy^^

Super buggy and huge memory hog on my stock N1. Looks good though. Couple of suggestions. The side bars are way to easy to accidently move to while navigating. Pinch to zoom. Of course fix stability. Other than so good so far.

Weave doesnt seem much of a grabber to me like it should, cuz i use chrome on my desktop, I guess I could import those into Chrome, tho i have been having trouble so far doing so.

you know...did the acid test on my stock 2.1 Droid Browser and I only received a 93/100...what the heck!?!?!

For some reason the onscreen keyboard won't work on the Droid. Have to use the slider qwerty to type. Any other Droid users having this issue?
Oh yes, major memory hog. Goodgooglymoogly!

Why is the file so large? Seems bigger than most of the other browsers. I've only got like 26MB left for installing apps and this file is over 10. :-\ I'm getting low disk space warnings. That's a bunch of apps to delete to make up that much space.

why is this browser 32 mb???? after i installed it i was wondering why it was soooo slow. i thought my phone had crashed cause it would take close to a minute to recognize any commands. after i looked at the size of the application it was 32mb. uninstalled. no use yet.

Installed this just now on my droid but it will not run. Just opens a black screen and forces closes after several minutes.

Wow this looks nice so far. Can't wait to see the final version. Might actually use this over the default browser.