Android (2.0 and above): It’s a “pre-alpha build”, but Firefox Mobile, a.k.a. Fennec, is worth testing out on newer Android phones. It’s a pretty neat browser with a lot of potential, as shown in our screen captures.
Despite its labelling and the many heedings from Mozilla, I found that most everything on Fennec was working on my Nexus One — everything except syncing bookmarks and tabs from my desktop Firefox browser to Fennec using Mozilla Weave. That might be an individual matter, but rest assured, they’ll get it working in the final — Firefox-to-phone syncing is one of Fennec’s killer, stand-out features.
On matters of speed and rendering, Fennec has a ways to go to match up with either mobile Safari or Opera Mini. The Firefox rendering engine hardly has a problem with layout or web standards, mind you, but right now the page rendering speed falls behind, even on a Wi-Fi connection to a very fast cable modem. You’re also restricted to double-tapping on a relevant page portion to zoom to its level. No pinch-to-zoom in this build, nor even the +/- buttons available on the stock Android browser. So if Firefox doesn’t do a good job guessing at the zoom level you want, some pages get a might bit squint-y.
Aside from those alpha concerns, Fennec is very impressive, overall. Our screenshot gallery below shows off some of its more interesting features. The address bar does a neat job of integrating URL entry and search, and “Search Integrators” do a neat job of offering up specific site searches — Twitter, Amazon, YouTube, etc — by clicking their icons below the main search area. Hiding the back/forward buttons and other controls on the left and right edges makes sense for small screens, the tabbed browsing offers both thumbnails and easy switching, and the add-ons installation and gallery work just like you’d expect from a tiny Firefox. Take a gander.
One more neat feature that you might have seen in the screenshots: you can save any page you’re browsing to a PDF file. That’s mighty helpful for saving reading you don’t want to do on a tiny screen for later. Then again, isn’t that what Weave syncing should be helpful for?
Fennec for Android is a free download, and requires Android 2.0 or above. Droid, Nexus One, Desire and other fancy-schmancy Android users, tell us what you think of Firefox Mobile in the comments.
Fennec on Android [Vladimir Vukićević]