Firefox for Android Looks Promising

by Ostatic Staff - Oct. 18, 2011

Mozilla's Firefox browser not only has a brand new rapid release cycle going this year (announced in February), but it also appears to have a new lease on life on the Android platform. Developer Jonathan Nightingale, in a Google Groups post, has confirmed that Firefox for Android will soon get a native UI instead of the current XUL version. For users, that means ultra-fast boot times and more. The announcement comes after missives from Google that appear to point to a version of Google Chrome for Android.

According to Nightingale's post:

"A native UI can be presented much faster than a XUL based UI, since it can happen in parallel with Gecko startup. This means startup times in fractions of a second, versus several seconds for a XUL UI on some phones."

That's not all, though. A native UI also means better memory handling and overall better responsiveness. Mozilla could really pull off a coup on Android by delivering a version of Firefox that works well with extensions, and Nightingale addressed the issue in his post:

"Firefox on Android is a critical part of supporting the open web, and
this decision puts us in a position to build the best Firefox possible. It's still early days, so we have a lot of questions to answer. We’re talking with the Add-on SDK team about the best way to support extensions."

Mozilla has long had its eyes on a strong mobile browser, leading back to its early work with the Fennec browser (Fennec means small fox). Especially if Google Chrome arrives in a strong version for Android, which definitely would serve Google and its Android strategy, there should be a competitive version of Firefox.

It looks like we will see these open source browsers--already steering innovation on desktop platforms--doing so on Android as well.