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Mozilla gives Firefox Focus a browser brain transplant on Android

The lite browser is growing up in other ways, too.

Firefox Focus is a privacy-centric version of Mozilla's browser designed for quick looks. Mozilla updated it with newer iOS and Android styling.

Firefox Focus is a privacy-centric version of Mozilla's browser designed for quick looks. Mozilla updated it with newer iOS and Android styling.

Screenshots by Stephen Shankland/CNET

Firefox Focus, Mozilla's lightweight mobile browser, became a little more like an ordinary browser and a lot more like regular Firefox on Tuesday.

Focus is a stripped-down browser initially designed for spur-of-the moment web interactions, blocking ad trackers and keeping no browsing history so you get more privacy. When it first arrived on Android, it used the built-in Google software for showing web pages. The new version, though, uses Mozilla's own Gecko engine instead, a move Mozilla says will speed up browsing with its Quantum-branded technology.

You may not care much which engine powers your mobile browser, as long as it works. But putting Gecko in Focus means there's a bit more browser diversity out there, a move that could encourage web developers not to become too fixated on supporting only Google's dominant Chrome browser.

The new Focus brings it a bit closer to an ordinary browser with the ability to show suggestions from search engines when you start typing in the address bar, Mozilla said in a blog post. That's something many of us have become used to, so it should make Firefox more like ordinary browsers -- though the feature is disabled by default for privacy reasons.

The new Focus also is updated with new icon styling to better match new mobile operating systems, Google's Android and Apple's iOS. And on iOS, it now supports Siri shortcuts for better integration with Apple's voice-control technology.