Native Firefox for Android Beta

May 21, 2012

At this point, you have probably heard the news. Yes, we’ve release the first public Beta of Firefox for Android with all the goodness that we’ve been working on in the last 7 months: the brand new native UI that is lighter, faster, and sleeker. Here are some big picture highlights about this Beta.

Design direction

The new native UI design is part of a wider effort in Mozilla to streamline the visual identity of Firefox across multiple platforms—desktop and mobile. Firefox should feel like one consistent product everywhere. Have a look at Madhava’s slide deck for more information on what the Firefox design team has been up to lately.

Keep in mind that this first native UI release is just the first of many iterations. For instance, there’s a lot of interesting changes coming up as part of our work on the native tablet UI that will eventually trickle down to the phone UI as well.

Panning and zooming

If you’re using the Beta already (or have been using the Nightly or Aurora builds) you’ll notice how smoother panning and zooming are. This is because the Beta features a major revamp on the graphics and rendering infrastructure using tiled rendering and an off-main-thread layer compositor. I recommend reading Benoit Girard’s and Chris Lord’s blog posts for further details. It’s worth mentioning that the Mobile Platform and Graphics teams did an amazing work to implement all this in a rather short period!

Places and Sync

The Places database has been re-implemented in Firefox for Android as a private Content Provider for two reasons. First of all, it gives instant access to history and bookmarks even before Gecko is up i.e. much faster startup experience. Secondly, it allows the new native Firefox Sync—which is now nicely integrated with the system’s sync UI—to access your browsing history and bookmarks even when Firefox is not running.

We’ve already started working on new features for the following releases including the native UI for Firefox on Android tablets and a reader mode. As you can see, the upcoming Firefox for Android is a whole new beast. We are working hard to make it the best mobile browser out there. You can help us now testing the Beta as part of our Mobile Test Drivers Program!

With the native UI, we’re creating a new baseline for innovation on Firefox Mobile. And it will only get better from now on. What are you waiting for? Download the Firefox for Android Beta now!

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