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Firefox's Fennec Mobile Browser Hits Beta

Code-named Fennec, Mozilla's mobile beta adds support for extensions, as well as stronger JavaScript support with the TraceMonkey engine.

Firefox Fennec Fox Mobile Browser

Firefox Fennec mobile browser
(click for larger image)

Mozilla has released the beta version of its mobile browser, and it sports some of the features that made Firefox popular on the desktop.

Code-named Fennec, the mobile browser uses the Gecko HTML rendering engine, has a rich bookmark manager, and can have a touch interface for zooming, panning, and scanning. The beta also adds support for browser extensions, which were a key reason the desktop version was able to nab market share away from Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Developers will be able to bring popular extensions like an ad blocker to the mobile browser, and Mozilla said it shouldn't be too difficult to port existing extensions.

The mobile browser also uses the TraceMonkey engine for JavaScript support, and this is the same engine found in the Firefox 3.1 desktop browser. The company said this helps the mobile browser start up faster, as well as boosts the ability to zoom and pan.

The Fennec beta is only available for the Nokia 810 Internet Tablet, but there are emulators for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. Mozilla is still planning to release a full version for Windows Mobile and Symbian by the end of the year. Fennec initially won't be available for BlackBerry, Android, or iPhone users because of licensing or technical reasons.

When Fennec is released, it will enter an increasingly crowded space. Along with the on-deck browsers like Safari on the iPhone, Fennec will have to contend with the likes of Opera Mini and the Flash-capable Skyfire.

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Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing
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Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing
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