Mozilla brought Firefox to Android less than a year ago, but after nine months in development it’s still lagging behind more experienced browsers on the platform. The developer has announced some big changes fro the mobile version, including a native user interface and Flash integration – again, something that’s available in the stock browser and others already. Interested testers can build themselves an early version of the app, but it’ll be a few months before the rest of us can get our hands on a beta.
As a dedicates Firefox user on the desktop, I was excited when it finally landed on the Android Market in a full version. Unfortunately the odd interface choices and general sluggishnish soon had me running back to Dolphin HD. Even now the app needs a lot of polish to be a worthy successor to its full-sized counterpart, and with Opera Mobile gaining a steady following and Google Chrome likely to land sometime in the near future, Mozilla needs to work fast to stay in the game. The XUL interface may be missing from future versions, but the familiar Gecko rendering engine (as opposed to the more popular WebKit) will remain intact. The change should make for faster boot times and page loading.
One of the more frustrating omissions from Firefox Mobile is Flash, an important selling point for Android as a whole and a must-have for even the most basic of browsers. Mozilla has recognized the gap in its featureset and assures users that Flash is coming. If you know what you’re doing you can grab the code for one of the latest branches of Firefox Mobile and try out Flash (but not the new interface) for yourself – some assembly required.