Firefox for Android received an upgrade that moved it up to version 14.0 recently. I downloaded and installed it and have been using it as the default browser on my device so as to have a good feel of its capabilities.
When you launch the browser, you are presented with thumbnails of your top visited sites, as well as the option to see your tabs from the last browsing session before you shut it down (see screenshot below). It looks really nice too.
The first thing I liked about it is the look and feel. Design-wise, it is immediately more attractive to me than the built-in browser and Chrome for Android. Yes; its the simple things – like how the tabs and menu buttons have been implemented.
Tabs-wise, I’ve been able to launch and keep open 13 tabs at the same time without any issues.
As far as I can tell, usability has taken a leap forward in this version of Firefox for Android. Previous iteration had the menus hidden away to the sides and you had to swipe right or left to access them. Tabs and other features were hidden away in those side menus. It was unique but I found it quirky then. This more conventional user interface scores higher in my books.
Page rendering on Firefox for Android is good, but comparisons that I have run show that it loads pages slower than the other two afore-mentioned browsers. For speed, it is my opinion that Chrome takes the crown.
Browser controls are hidden away in the right drop-down menu – and from there you can refresh, bookmark, share and even save (as PDF) the page you’re browsing. Further settings are found in that same menu.
The ability to save a page as PDF for offline reading is a bonus in my books.
Firefox for Android also let’s you set a homepage and browse privately with a feature that tells sites not to track you.
Accessing open tabs or launching a new tab is easier on Firefox too, because the tabs button is right on the screen beside the address bar, just like it is on Chrome.
Firefox for Android supports add-ons, though what is available is quite limited.
The browser also let’s you sync with Firefox on PC, so you can access your bookmarks, history and tabs from your PC or other devices.
Running the HTML5 test, it scores 311 and 9 bonus points. That puts it above MeeGo’s 284 and Android’s built-in browser’s 280, but behind Opera Mobile and Chrome (both 369) and iOS (324).
Before this version, I wasn’t much interested in Firefox for Android. My preference was Chrome, but I am having a rethink and might soon find myself using Firefox on Android permanently.
Do you use Firefox for Android? What are your thoughts on the changes?