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Firefox for iOS gets customizable search, battery savings

Diehard fans of Mozilla's desktop browser now have a new mobile version for their iPhone or iPad.

Mozilla may finally have a reason for you to check out the Firefox browser for your iPhone.

A new version, set for release Tuesday, cuts processor use by 40 percent and memory use by 30 percent, according to the nonprofit organization.

The result is a more power-efficient mobile browser that may potentially help your phone run a full day without a recharge. The feature, one of many in the new update, could get people to take a second look at Firefox's mobile browser, an area where Mozilla has struggled.

Firefox for iOS is based on Apple's core browser technology -- an approach that Apple requires and that helped contribute to the fact that Mozilla didn't release Firefox for iOS-powered devices until years after the appearance of competitors like Apple's Safari, Google's Chrome and Opera Software's Opera. But the browser still can be convenient for Firefox fans. For example, the browser lets them keep mobile and PC browsing history and passwords in sync.

So far, Firefox has only a minute presence on mobile devices. Mozilla scrapped its own Firefox OS phone effort. That's hobbled Mozilla's effort to use its browser to try to develop and promote web technology.

Other new features in the Firefox update:

  • The ability to add custom search engines such as Craigslist, Wikipedia and eBay for quick access to options beyond the standard choices like Bing, Yahoo and Google that ship with the browser.
  • The ability to reopen closed tabs.
  • A new method for navigating through open tabs that's designed to be easier.
  • A new menu designed to speed access to frequently used actions.
  • A home button to quickly get to a home page.