Mozilla Firefox for Android

Mozilla Firefox for Android

Download Editors' Rating:
4.5
Outstanding
Average User Rating:
2.2
out of 14 votes

Quick Specs

  • Version:
    10.0
  • Total Downloads:
    192,348
  • Date Added:
    January 31, 2012
  • File Size:
    Not available
  • Downloads Last Week:
    170
  • Operating Systems:
    Android

Editors' Note: The "Download Now" link directs you to the product page. You can download the application from the Android Market on your Android device.

Editors' Review

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The bottom line: Firefox 10 for Android brings both familiarity and power to the Android browser scene, but it's the killer Sync that will drive attention to Mozilla's mobile browser.

Please note that the First Look video below is still applicable to Firefox 10 for Android, as is the Firefox How To collection, even though they both feature Firefox 4.

Review:
Editors' note: Portions of this review are based on CNET's review of Firefox 10 for desktops.

Mozilla's foray into the Android Market ports much of the desktop Firefox experience to your mobile device. The look and feel of the desktop browser have been replicated remarkably well, and the browser itself doesn't feel alien compared with other Android browsers.

In version 10, you get more incremental updates, mostly focused on making the browser work better. However, tablet users will see an entirely new interface, designed to be optimized the larger-screen format. The Back button has moved to the location bar, which has been stretched to the right edge of the screen to put the Refresh and Bookmark buttons closer at hand. Tabs have been moved to a hidden menu when in portrait mode, and appear much larger than they did before when they're exposed. There have been some performance gains, too, as Mozilla says that people ought to see faster app load times.

Firefox 11, due in March, will feature an entirely new interface based on native Android code. The preview version in Firefox Aurora for Android feels extremely fast compared with the current version.

Recent improvements constitute a lengthy list. Partially that's because of the rapid-release cycle with new updates every six weeks, and partly it's because Firefox for Android is very much a work in progress. Notable changes include Do Not Track support, which helps prevent targeted ad tracking; smoother panning around Web pages; support for the Web Open Font Format for downloadable typefaces to embellish Web pages with; support for IndexedDB to enable better offline functionality; the ability to select text in a Web page for copying and pasting; a master password option; bookmarks on the home screen for additional interface customization; and support for restartless add-ons to cut down on browsing interruptions.

Installation
Installing Firefox 10 is no different than installing any other Android app, except that the installer is significantly larger than most Android apps. The basic Firefox installer takes up around 14.5MB on your phone, so be sure that you have enough room to store it. Alternatively, you can transfer it to your SD card before running it for the first time. This is really an issue only for those with older phones.

Once running, Firefox for Android will require between 19MB and 32MB total. The extra memory comes from browsing and synchronization data. Firefox's APK is so large--especially when compared with the default Android browser, which takes up less than 1MB of space--because Firefox includes its own rendering engine. Most other third-party browsers on Android still use the default browsers' WebKit engine.

Note that Firefox for Android works best on more recent devices. Three notable phones that it does not work on are the T-Mobile G1, the original Motorola Droid, and the Droid Eris. Mozilla says that they're basically too underpowered to support the browser. The company has a list of supported devices and other requirements.

Interface
Firefox 10 Mobile's interface starts you off differently from its desktop counterpart, with a new Firefox Start page. It's a landing page that provides buttons for several key browser functions. You can reload your tabs from your previous session, peruse and load tabs from other computers, and tweak add-ons. For example, if you install the Personas add-on for skinning the browser, a button will appear on Firefox Start to quickly get you to the Personas management page.

Above Firefox Start lives the location bar. Favicons are larger in Firefox than in the default browser, which makes it easier to check at a glance which site you're on. Tap the favicon to see site security information, as well as options to save the page as a PDF, search within the page, tweak character encoding, and see relevant add-ons. Adblock Plus will appear here, for example.

As in the desktop version, you can search directly from the URL bar. Tap it and you'll jump to a window with four tabs that Mozilla calls the Awesome Screen. The first tab is All Pages, which shows all the sites you've visited. The next tab is Bookmarks, and if you've enabled Sync, your desktop bookmarks will appear in a separate folder here. The third tab is your History, and the fourth is Desktop for showing tabs from your Firefox desktop--again, this is dependent on using Firefox Sync.

Drag the site you're on to the right to see tab management, with each tab represented by a thumbnail. Dragging your finger across the screen to the left shows you the star for quickly bookmarking a site, forward and backward navigation buttons, and an Options button for accessing Firefox's Preferences, Add-ons, and Downloads window.

Hitting the hardware Settings button gives you four more options via tabs: Site options, which is the same as tapping a site's favicon; Preferences, for customizing Firefox; add-ons for managing your extensionss; fand a downloads manager.

The interface design is intuitive and ought to be easy to learn to use. Most importantly, transitions between screens in Firefox 8 Mobile were smooth and suffered no lags. It's probably helpful for new Android users to remember that for bookmark- and history-related searches, you tap the location bar at the top of the browser. For tweaks to Firefox itself, tap the Settings button and your options will appear at the bottom.

Features and support
Firefox 10 Mobile's features are robust and competitive, bringing user favorites like Firefox's add-on community to Android along with important usability features like the aforementioned Firefox Sync, clever search-engine switching, and blazing browsing times with its own rendering engine.

The most important feature in Firefox 10 Mobile is Firefox Sync. As with many recent Firefox features, it started off as a rough add-on for the desktop, and often deleted data. If you were scared off by its early bad behavior, you'll be glad to know that Mozilla has worked out the kinks: Sync now smoothly syncs your Bookmarks, Passwords, Preferences, History, and Tabs on multiple desktops and multiple Android devices.

Unfortunately, Firefox Sync does not support syncing add-ons, even when there are versions for both desktop and Android such as Adblock Plus. Hopefully this will come in future versions, or at least Sync will be improved to include an advanced users' panel for those who want more customization in their synchronizations.

That all being said, Firefox Sync is a powerful feature that works well, and it keeps your desktop data cleanly separated from your mobile browsing in folders and options labeled "desktop," yet that separation doesn't impair your ability to access anything. This is a top-notch synchronization implementation.

To use it, go to Preferences and make sure that Enable Sync is checked. Then tap the Connect button, and enter in the code that appears in your desktop version of Firefox. If you're not near your desktop, tap the link that reads, "I'm not near my computer" and follow those instructions.

Within Firefox Sync, there are two important security points. One is that Firefox encrypts your data before sending it over an encrypted connection to its servers, where it remains encrypted. Mozilla says that the company would not be able to access it even if somebody there wanted to. The second is that you have the option of setting up your own personal sync server. In an age when private data stored by corporations gets hacked and stolen with shocking regularity, setting up a personal sync server is one way to ensure that you bear the responsibility for your own data.

Another big feature in Firefox 10 Mobile is support for add-ons. There's a small collection of these so far, only around 150 at the time Firefox 4 Mobile debuted in March 2011. Of those, however, there are many which are among the most popular of Firefox's desktop add-ons, including Adblock Plus, NoScript, Personas, and Readability. There are numerous search engine add-ons, which makes it easier to search specific sites from your device. These include IMDb, Twitter, YouTube, and Bing.

A cool search engine feature that Mozilla has built into Firefox Mobile is that when you start typing in the location bar, Firefox will offer your search engines with the term you just typed in as automatic results. So, if you type "cheese," along with your previously visited "cheese.com," you'll get "Google--search for cheese" as a one-tap alternative. Another cool search tweak is that because of the Awesome Screen's All Pages default tab, which functions as a dumping ground for all URLs you have visited and have bookmarked, it can search your history quickly. That, too, will cut down on typing and tapping. These are key time-saving features on a mobile device, especially those with smaller screens.

As mentioned, Firefox 10 Mobile supports tabbed browsing and one-tap bookmarking using the bookmark star, both familiar and effective tools ported over from the desktop version. Pinch-to-zoom and double-tap are supported for zooming in, and it's no accident that Firefox offers a reformat-text-on-zoom option in the preferences. You can also toggle images, JavaScript, password saving, and cookies, for increased security and faster downloading.

Other features that Mozilla has ported to the mobile version include a lot of what powers Firefox under the hood. There's broad HTML5 support; Electrolysis for keeping processes separate and increasing the stability of the browser; the desktop's JaegerMonkey JavaScript rendering engine, which recently helped earn the desktop version an Editors' Choice Award from CNET; and multiprocess running on phones with more than one core. There's also an offline mode for precaching sites.

However, Firefox 9 Mobile does not support Flash, even when you've installed the separate Flash app from Adobe. This sets it behind many of its competitors that do support Flash, including the default Android browser, Opera Mobile, and Dolphin HD, but the coming native Android UI version of Firefox will also.

Performance
There's no doubt that Firefox Mobile renders Web sites faster than the default browser. It also feels more cohesive, as the discrete elements of pages appear more quickly.

Much of this has to do with the JaegerMonkey engine getting ported to the mobile version. We'll update this section with CNET's performance benchmarks as they become available, although initial results show Firefox 9 performing competitively against other browsers.

Initially, we thought that Firefox for Android suffered from some serious lag when starting up. It turns out that this was related to upgrading from the beta test version to the one that's currently available to the public. If you're experiencing sluggishness when starting the browser and you were a Firefox beta tester, it's worth your while to uninstall it and then download it again.

Conclusion
Definitely a worthy heir to the Firefox name, Firefox 10 Mobile is likely to become many desktop Firefox users' default browser simply by virtue of Firefox Sync. The feature is impressively useful, and will become even more so if users begin adopting Android tablets the way they've taken to Android phones.

Although the lag when starting the browser has mostly been eliminated, the lack of Flash support is a definite problem. It's enough to keep the browser from getting top marks, as much as we really like just about everything else about Firefox on Android.

 
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Publisher's Description

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User Reviews
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Results 1-10 of 14

  • 4 stars

    "Its ok but ...."

    February 26, 2014   |   By intellectuallymad

    Version: Mozilla Firefox for Android 25.0

    Pros

    it works quite well and i browse through it but ....

    Cons

    but crahses like it often in anyother operating system !!

    Summary

    nothing, it is as good as anyother reliable app

    Reply to this review

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  • 1 stars

    "trainwreck"

    September 24, 2013   |   By jdpeyton

    Version: Mozilla Firefox for Android 24

    Pros

    can use some Firefox extensions like Ad-block plus

    Cons

    I have a Nexus 7 (4.3). I have always used Firefox so installed it.
    I wonder if a actual user beta tested this thing. It just gives a bad user experience. I expected a lot better. I uninstalled and
    went back using Chrome.

    Summary

    I hope this doesn't portend the future for Firefox for windows

    Reply to this review

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  • 2 stars

    "Font size issues persist"

    April 03, 2013   |   By pwgibbons

    Version: Mozilla Firefox for Android 19.0

    Pros

    Generally fast and easy to use

    Cons

    SOme blogs show font size problems (EG tiny links that are hard to finger without extreme zoom)

    Summary

    Sticking with Android broweser until this is resolved. Galaxy S2.

    Reply to this review

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  • 3 stars

    "Does not work well on some phones"

    February 28, 2013   |   By spacerock27

    Version: Mozilla Firefox for Android 19.0

    Pros

    About as fast as the one built in.
    Addons like the ones for the desktop.

    Cons

    Weird issue with some Samsung Galaxy phones.

    Summary

    This app would be much better if it didn't render incorrectly when the orientation is changed.

    Reply to this review

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  • 4 stars

    "Why the Outdated User Reviews?"

    December 05, 2012   |   By smelton

    Version: Mozilla Firefox for Android 17.0

    Pros

    Now does Flash.

    Cons

    Still not as good as the desktop version. But what Android browser is?

    Summary

    Why does CNET continue to publish User Reviews for earlier versions of Firefox for Android? Many of the reviews here are not valid for Firefox 17.0, and may confuse readers seeing those reviews. The reviews here should only be for the product being discussed, not earlier versions of it.

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  • 1 stars

    "CRASHES phone"

    August 19, 2012   |   By catchemall

    Version: Mozilla Firefox for Android 14.0.1

    Pros

    NONE on Mobile version ; Love desktop

    Cons

    Locked up phone twice had to pull battery to unlock phone.

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  • 1 stars

    "False Advertisement"

    June 26, 2012   |   By iuhoopboy

    Version: Mozilla Firefox for Android 10.0.5

    Pros

    Have no idea

    Cons

    IT DOESNT WORK ON ICS TABLETS!

    Summary

    They should say what is not compatible in the hype. Dont shoot fireworks off like its the best thing if it wont work on the newest devices?

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  • 2 stars

    "Disappointed"

    October 10, 2011   |   By pbeckman--2008

    Version: Mozilla Firefox for Android 7.0.1

    Pros

    Firefox is my fave browser.

    Cons

    No Flash?!?

    Summary

    Firefox loses a lot of its appeal because of the lack of Flash. I usually have better luck with websites with Firefox for my desktop, but am planning to uninstall from phone.

    Reply to this review

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  • 1 stars

    "Slow and No flash"

    August 03, 2011   |   By ssbmmaster

    Version: Mozilla Firefox for Android 5.0

    Pros

    Really, there are none

    Cons

    As stated in the title, it is slow and does not include flash

    Summary

    You are better off sticking with the stock browser since it is faster, more stable, and gives flash support.

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  • 1 stars

    "Not ready for normal use"

    July 17, 2011   |   By rahmanroni

    Version: Mozilla Firefox for Android 5.0

    Pros

    Its ok I guess.............

    Cons

    Buggy, a recourse hog like the desktop version, slow and feels awkward to use at times.

    Summary

    Its passable, and I'm really lowering standards here, but it needs more work to be as good as the built in browser or other ones like Dolphin.

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  • Results 1-10 of 14

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    Full Specifications

    +
    What's new in version 10.0

    Version 10 for Android includes:

    • Anti-Aliasing for WebGL is now implemented (see bug 615976)
    • Accelerated layers are now supported via OpenGL ES
    • It's now even easier to set up Firefox Sync - see the "Set up Sync" link on the home tab
    • New "bdi" element for bi-directional text isolation, along with supporting CSS properties (see bugs 613149 and 662288)
    • We've added IndexedDB APIs to more closely match the specification
    • There is an extremely rare case where the browser may become unable to load web pages or close tabs

    General
    Publisher Mozilla
    Publisher web site http://www.mozilla.org/
    Release Date January 31, 2012
    Date Added January 31, 2012
    Version 10.0
    Category
    Category Browsers
    Subcategory Web Browsers
    Operating Systems
    Operating Systems Android
    Additional Requirements Android 2.0 and above
    Download Information
    File Size Not Available
    File Name details
    Popularity
    Total Downloads 192,348
    Downloads Last Week 170
    Pricing
    License Model Free
    Limitations Not available
    Price Free

    Previous Versions:

     
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