Summary:

Mozilla has a new beta version of its mobile Firefox browser for Android. The software is still a work in progress, but shows promise with a redesigned user interface, faster startup and support for Flash. In a JavaScript test, it’s as fast as Chrome for Android!

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Mozilla released a new beta version of its mobile Firefox browser for Android devices on Tuesday. Although the software is still a work in progress, it shows promise with a redesigned user interface, faster startup and page loads and support for Adobe Flash. The browser is available for free in Google Play and has been tested for compatibility with roughly five dozen Android smartphones and tablets.

Among the other listed features for Firefox Mobile version 14:

  • A new Awesome screen and easier access to top sites, bookmarks and history from the Awesome bar
  • Plug-ins only loading upon touch
  • Improvements in panning and zooming
  • Google searches now use an https:// connection

There are still some bugs and glitches to be worked out as well as some missing features that Mozilla is still working on. You can’t, for example, select text on a web page yet, and Adobe Flash isn’t yet supported on Android 2.3 phones that use Nvidia’s Tegra 2 chip. Still, after spending a little time with the browser, it’s generally looking good. The interface shows more polish and refinement than ever before.

The new version is peppy, too: I ran the SunSpider JavaScript test using my Galaxy Nexus and Firefox, which yielded a result of 1675 ms. That’s statistically equal to Chrome for Android, which scores 1648 ms on the same phone. (Note: a smaller number is better for this test). Even though Firefox can sync desktop bookmarks, just like Chrome does, this new beta is still too limited for daily use. But folks that use Android in the hand and Firefox on the desktop will surely want to follow Mozilla’s progress.

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