The first beta of Mozilla Firefox 4.0 Mobile has been released. Although version 1.0 was released in February 2010, it was only available on Nokia’s Maemo platform so relatively few people could try it. The new version supports Android tablets and mobile phones, so it will have a wider potential audience.
The new browser is based on the same core as the Firefox 4.0 desktop browser and the final release of both versions is expected in November 2010. To prevent any confusion, Mozilla has jumped straight from v1.0 to v4.0 on the mobile edition.
Firefox is one of the most advanced mobile browsers and includes better performance, tabs, one-click bookmarking, automatic synchronization, and the “Awesome Screen” to reduce typing (I still hate that name!) However, it’s mobile add-ons which will provoke the most interest. There are only a few dozen available at present, but you can already find new themes, AdBlock, NoScript, tab utilities, feed readers, social networking widgets and a Tetris clone.
Firefox 4.0 Mobile can be installed on the Nokia N900 or Android 2.0 devices with 32MB internal storage and 12MB SD storage. It is known to be compatible with the following mobiles:
- Nokia N900
- HTC Desire
- HTC EVO 4G
- HTC Google Nexus One
- Motorola Droid 2
A comprehensive list of devices is available on the Mozilla wiki.
You can also experiment with Firefox 4.0 Mobile beta 1 on Windows, Mac OS X or Linux, although I couldn’t get it working on Windows 7?
While Firefox 4.0 is undoubtedly one of the better mobile browsers, I’m not certain it can be as successful as its desktop brother. Mozilla is targeting the high-end smart phone market, yet those devices already offer good web browsing facilities. It’ll attract die-hard Firefox users and those who like add-ons, but has it arrived too late?
Have you tried Firefox 4.0 Mobile on your device? Would you use it in preference to the native browser?
Craig is a freelance UK web consultant who built his first page for IE2.0 in 1995. Since that time he's been advocating standards, accessibility, and best-practice HTML5 techniques. He's created enterprise specifications, websites and online applications for companies and organisations including the UK Parliament, the European Parliament, the Department of Energy & Climate Change, Microsoft, and more. He's written more than 1,000 articles for SitePoint and you can find him @craigbuckler.
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