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8/27/2010
11:41 AM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
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Mozilla's Fennec Mobile Browser Reaches Alpha For Android

On Friday, Mozilla announced the availability of Fennec -- a.k.a mobile Firefox -- for the Android platform.

Mozilla has been toiling away, slowly, at bringing a mobile version of its Firefox browser to smartphone platforms. In its latest progress report, Mozilla says an alpha version of Fennec is finally ready for Google's Android OS.

Mozilla said the goal in developing this alpha version of Fennec was to make improvements in the responsiveness and performance of the browser. In order to make those changes, Mozilla is working with two new technologies -- "Electrolysis" and "Layers." The first technology, Electrolysis, makes it into the alpha, while the second, Layers, won't be added until Fennec hits beta.

According to Mozilla, Eletrolysis "allows the browser interface to run in a separate process from the one rendering Web content. By doing this, Fennec is able to react much faster to user input while pages are loading or CPU intensive JavaScript is running."

Layers will be worked into the next version, and once it is added users should notice significant performance in navigation actions such as scrolling, zooming, animations, and video. Mozilla hopes to batch Layers with hardware-accelerated graphics engines found in today's mobile phones.

Mozilla's vision for mobile browsing includes seamless transitions between desktop browsing sessions and mobile browsing sessions. Fennec supports add-ons and Firefox Sync, which transports the Awesome Bar, open tabs, bookmarks, and passwords from the desktop to the mobile device.

Until then, the Alpha version of Fennec is a start for wider acceptance of Firefox mobile. It has some serious competition to worry about. The native Android browser is very good, and there are already alternatives for Android handsets from the likes of Dolphin and Opera.

The fact that the browser is being labeled an "alpha" means that it is far from complete, and may be buggy. Install and use at your own risk. Mozilla said that it welcomes user feedback.

The download can be found here. It requires devices running Android 2.0 and up. Fennec is also available for the Nokia N900 Maemo Linux device. A video of the browser in action can be found here

[Via Mozilla]

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