Mozilla’s Fennec project has finally delivered the first release of Firefox Mobile for Maemo-based phones such as the Nokia N900. The browser offers a modern browsing experience optimized for handheld devices and includes:
- HTML5, CSS2.1, CSS3, SVG, Canvas and most of the newer technologies available in desktop browsers.
- A clean, clutter-free interface with minimal on-screen controls, one-touch bookmarking and the awesome bar.
- Tabs, zooming, search engine integration, offline browsing, a download manager, password manager, pop-up blocker, and spell-checking.
- Mozilla Weave to synchronize your bookmarks, open tabs, and history with your desktop PC.
- Location-aware browsing to get maps and information relevant to your current location.
- Full customization, automated updates and add-ons support.
The browser is also available on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux if you want to test mobile development on your local PC.
It’s a undoubtedly a great browser and worth considering if you’re a Firefox user with an N900. I hope it does well but, realistically, how many people can install the browser? Version 1.0 is available for top-of-the-range Maemo devices with Windows Mobile coming soon. However, Android development has only just begun. More worryingly, there are no plans for versions on the Apple iPhone/iPad, Blackberry, or Symbian platforms. Mozilla has stated they are willing to co-operate with Apple to produce an iPhone edition but, given their recent history, I doubt Apple will be eager to offer an alternative to Safari.
Perhaps Mozilla is looking to the future and hope we’ll all have compatible devices within a few years? But I can’t help thinking they’ve been a little too ambitious. Should they have produced a simpler browser which could be installed on a wide range of mobile devices? More advanced versions could have been developed as the market evolved.
Fortunately, Opera are still producing a number of quality mobile browsers which work on a variety of mass-market devices.
Have you tried Firefox Mobile on your phone? Is it superior to your other mobile browsers? Are you considering web application development on mobile platforms?
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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