Mozilla's Firefox Daylight browser for Android is out. Here are 5 reasons to try it

The reasons: speed, privacy, tab collections, extensions and a way to keep Google Chrome from completely ruling the web.

Stephen Shankland principal writer
Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and writes about processors, digital photography, AI, quantum computing, computer science, materials science, supercomputers, drones, browsers, 3D printing, USB, and new computing technology in general. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces. His first big scoop was about radioactive cat poop.
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  • I've been covering the technology industry for 24 years and was a science writer for five years before that. I've got deep expertise in microprocessors, digital photography, computer hardware and software, internet standards, web technology, and other dee
Stephen Shankland
3 min read
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Mozilla released Firefox Daylight on Tuesday, an overhauled version of its Firefox browser for Android phones that marks a new step to claim some influence player in the crucial mobile market. The new browser, with better speed and stronger privacy, is available in Europe and will be released in North America on Thursday.

About 33 million people use Firefox on Android each month, about one-sixth the 208 million browser's total users. But Firefox still pales in comparison to Google Chrome, with more than a billion people using it across 2 billion devices.

Mozilla said Firefox Daylight offers a number of improvements over the previous Firefox for Android. Among them: 

  • Daylight opens web pages about 10% faster than the previous version. It's also more responsive when you're scrolling or tapping.
  • It has new privacy muscle in the form of Mozilla's Enhanced Tracking Protection, designed to block advertisers and publishers from logging your online behavior.
  • The new version features Tab collections that lets you organize sets of tabs into a named group that you can open in bulk later.
  • Daylight adds Mozilla's list of recommended extensions, which are add-ons that let you customize the browser, making it easier to find ones that are safe and useful.

If you already have Firefox for Android installed, the new version will replace it without much disruption. If you're new to mobile Firefox, you're more likely to stick with Firefox Daylight than people were with its predecessor, Mozilla said.

"We found that new user retention was higher in Firefox Preview than in the previous version of Firefox, Vesta Zare, product manager of Firefox for Android, said in an email. Mozilla tested Firefox Daylight for more than a year under the name Firefox Preview.

Firefox for Android uses Mozilla's own browser engine technology, a contrast to other third-party browsers like Brave and Samsung Internet, which are based on Google's Chrome technology. Firefox Daylight, though, employs Mozilla's new GeckoView, an updated foundation other browsers and apps can use, too.

That means a fifth reason to use Firefox Daylight. If you want somebody besides Google charting the entire future of the web, installing Firefox for Android is a good first step.

Firefox usage has steadily dwindled in recent years, and Mozilla is suffering financially. Mozilla cut about 250 of its 1,000 employees in August to cope with declining revenue from search partners, notably Google.

Mozilla named the new version Firefox Daylight in an effort to set it off more dramatically from its predecessors in the same way it released Firefox Quantum for personal computers in 2017. That was part of a major effort to reclaim Firefox influence and users lost to Chrome, but so far, it hasn't worked. Monthly Firefox users dropped from about 250 million two years ago to today's 208 million.

Mozilla offers a separate version of Firefox for iPhones that about 7 million people use monthly. Gut because of Apple's rules, it's not allowed to build that atop GeckoView. Instead, Mozilla and all other browser makers must use Apple's WebKit browser foundation.