Mobile extension

Firefox for mobile is clearly a young product, but it's promising.

Mozilla's first Firefox browser for mobile touch-screen phones presents a likable design concept, an innovative approach to add-ons, and a better-than-fair browsing experience. However, there are a few snags for the Firefox team to work on as the browser develops on other mobile platforms.

We like the way that Firefox has downplayed the role of navigation on the screen by housing most of the navigation and settings on either side. Swipe your finger side to side to access favorites, navigation, and the settings menu.

The third-party add-ons in the Settings menu are Mozilla's big claim to fame, the popularity of which helped make Firefox known to desktop users. While not very numerous at the time of this review, the number of add-ons is sure to grow. As with the desktop version, the extensibility and personalization of Firefox for mobile will be a boon so long as extensions don't hamper performance.

Support for tabbed browsing and downloading apps is also a plus, but in terms of searching within a page and copying and pasting within the browser, Firefox needs to play catch-up with Opera. Flash support has been disabled in this version, but add-ons like the YouTube Enabler make it possible to play videos from certain sites, albeit with variable quality.

There aren't any autosuggestions as you type a new query into the address bar, and you can choose a home page only by bookmarking a URL. In addition, you can't access the settings when you first open the browser without first loading a Web page. Firefox was also a little sluggish in our public Wi-Fi tests.

Firefox for mobile is clearly a young product, but it's promising so far, and is certainly stronger than some earlier attempts at mobile browsers (anyone remember Minimo?). We'll see if the app is able to draw on its extensions paradigm and pedigree of desktop success to capture mobile browsing.

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