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Firefox for Android gets it mostly right (video)

This is Mozilla's most far-reaching mobile move yet, and for the most part, the browser-maker does its Firefox brand proud.

Jessica Dolcourt Editorial Director, Content Operations
Jessica Dolcourt's career with CNET began in 2006, and spans reviews, reporting, analysis and commentary for desktop software; mobile software, including the very first Android and iPhone apps and operating systems; and mobile hardware, with an emphasis on iPhone and Samsung. Jessica was one of the first people in the world to test, review and report on foldable phones and 5G wireless speeds. Jessica began leading CNET's How-To section for tips and FAQs in 2019, guiding coverage of practical advice on expansive topics ranging from personal finance to phones and home. She holds an MA with Distinction from the University of Warwick (UK).
Expertise Team leadership, audience engagement, iPhone, Android, iOS, tips and FAQs.
Jessica Dolcourt
2 min read
Watch this: Firefox for Android

Mozilla lifted the lid off Firefox for Android earlier this week, but what's the big deal? Oh, just that this is Firefox's most important mobile appearance since browser-maker Mozilla began its mobile project, notably as the Minimo browser for Windows Mobile 5 and 6, and later as Fennec for Windows Mobile 6. (Mozilla later dropped Windows Mobile support when Microsoft began work on Windows Phone 7.)

There's also the fact that Firefox offers a couple of unique mobile components, like its signature add-ons convention, as well as Firefox Sync, which gives your smartphone access to URLs that you opened on your computer.

For navigation, Firefox makes use of swiping the screen left and right to reveal controls in the gutters. This takes a bit more effort than tapping a persistent onscreen control, but it also frees up that precious screen space for reading and browsing.

An attractive, logical interface only goes so far, and thankfully Mozilla seems to have tightened up the spotty performance we've seen in earlier beta efforts. There's always room for growth, especially considering that Firefox for Mobile will reach the most users it ever has now that it's on the Android platform.

There's still the issue of missing Flash support, which Mozilla sloughed off over a year ago. That will potentially hinder the app's adoption since the default Android browser does support Flash. Mozilla, however, is betting on HTML5 for playing video and other dynamic Web content.

For now, I will say that Mozilla has hit most of the usability high points, and that after long years of development, it has created a mobile browser worthy of competing with the likes of Dolphin Browser and Opera Mobile 11.