Mozilla has announced a new version of Firefox for Android, focusing on speed, organization, and privacy. Mozilla discussed the reinvented browser in a blog post yesterday and the pilot is available now for all to download.
The preview version of the new browser is called, appropriately, Firefox Preview. Mozilla says this browser is up to twice as fast as previous Firefox for Android versions, while an improved interface and workflow stand to increase productivity further.
The most immediately noticeable interface change is the position of the address bar, which is at the bottom of the page rather than its usual spot at the top. The browser also adds something called Collections, which lets you save and share groups of sites, or call upon them like shortcuts.
I haven’t been able to ascertain how much these changes affect usability in my short time with the browser, but I’ll be having a deeper look at Firefox Preview this weekend and will report back with some thoughts next week.
What’s this about GeckoView?
Mozilla’s new browser is based on an open-source mobile engine called GeckoView. In its blog post, Mozilla compared this to its Quantum engine for desktop, which helped the browser make significant gains when it was launched in 2017 (and it continues to benefit Firefox to this day).
Mozilla believes GeckoView will offer the same on Android.
GeckoView is what will help Mozilla develop faster and allow it ultimately to completely revamp Firefox for mobile. It’s the basket in which all of Mozilla’s mobile eggs are being placed right now, which means the privacy-centric Firefox Focus is temporarily being put on the back-burner. The browser will remain available, but it won’t be in active development.
Firefox Preview has incorporated many of the Firefox Focus features anyway — like advertising tracker blocking by default — so I suspect Focus will eventually become redundant as it’s merged into the mainline Firefox for Android.
Mozilla says the “feature-rich” final version of its revamped Firefox browser is headed to Android this fall. The company also said the user experience would be “significantly” different in the upcoming final version; Moziall will improve the Preview from now on based on user feedback. To that end, you can email Mozilla here: “firstname.lastname@example.org” or visit the Github to leave feedback if you test it out yourself.
Download Firefox Preview at the link below and give me your thoughts on it in the comments.