Luckily, we’ve already been making a lot of progress in this area. Mobile browsers are, albeit still inferior, looking nicer and working more powerful each day; the mentality has changed and the gap is decreasing slowly but steadily. With the Fennec alpha release, Mozilla looks to be bridging that gap even faster.
Mozilla, the guys who’ve been bringing you Firefox, have always been missing out on the mobile action. Although Opera, Internet Explorer and Safari all have mobile counterparts, Firefox stuck to the desktop. That’s where Fennec comes in. Fennec is Mozilla’s answer to the mobile browser; a Firefox mobile browser, so to speak. Sadly, it’s currently only available for Android 2.0 and higher. Older platforms should become available as development continues.
An early build has been floating around the web since earlier this year, but it was a mostly buggy experience. Last month, Mozilla officially released the Fennec Alpha version, which is not yet fully finished (hence the alpha tag), but nevertheless it still gives you a good idea about where the project’s heading.
Before we install Fennec, let’s make sure your phone is set up right. Verify that your user agent is set to Android, not Desktop, in the settings pane of your current mobile browser. Now you can point your mobile browser to the Fennec download page and install your shiny new Mozilla browser. If you’re not using Android 2.0 or higher, you also cannot install this release.
One thing I’ve noticed using Fennec is that it can be rightfully be called a memory hog. While running, it takes up over 30 MB of internal memory and may serve you a “˜low storage’ warning message. This can be solved by moving the application to SD, in Settings -> Applications -> Manage Applications -> Fennec. Doing so will rid you of the low storage warning and significantly improve your Fennec browsing speed.
Mobile Browsing On Steroids
Even in this Alpha release, Fennec shows itself to be an impressive browser candidate. Fennec offers a simple, non-cluttered interface. The menus are initially hidden, but the bookmarks and tabs overview can be dragged in from the side of the screen. Website content is easily shared across social networks and email by long-pressing an object, and with offline browsing in mind, the user can even save the entire page as a PDF to the SD card.
Like its desktop counterpart, Fennec supports browser add-ons, although they’re not cross-compatible. There are currently a good hundred mobile add-ons available in the Fennec gallery. Firefox Sync, a built-in feature, will also allow you to keep passwords, form data, history and open tabs synchronized between multiple Firefox installations and Fennec.
For this Fennec release, Mozilla keeps interface and rendering memory resources strictly divided. Loading a tricky website, or rather failing to load it, will no longer freeze the entire application. Despite a relatively fresh experience, this alpha can still contain bugs, so everyday use might not be recommended.
What browser do you use on your Android phone, and what do you think about Mozilla Fennec’s? Let us know in the comments section below!
More articles about: