Mozilla has been working on a mobile version of Firefox for the last year or two. And while the team recently decided to end development of the Windows Mobile version of Firefox, a release for Google Android is expected later this year. If you’re the impatient type though, you can download and install an early build now.
The pre-release version of Firefox Mobile is code-named Fennec. And a member of the Android Forums has compiled a version of Fennec for Android. He’s posted the installer package online and shared a few videos so you can see how the browser runs on a Motorola Milestone (Droid).
Overall, Fennec for Android looks a lot like the version released for Maemo devices such as the Nokia N900. I tested out a Fennec build for Windows a while back, and while it doesn’t make a lot of sense as a desktop web browser, it does a pretty good job of offering many of the features you’d expect from a desktop browser on a mobile device.
It has a bookmark manager, history, and even add-on support. But most of the sub-menus are hidden away until you swipe the screen to bring up the navigation controls.
You can download the installer from this German site, or by using this link. In order to install it, just mount your phone’s SD card and copy it from your computer. You can then either use a file explorer (if you have one installed) to find the .apk file on your device or use a tool like AppsInstaller to scan your SD card for installable files. Once installed, you’ll want to find the icon for “GeckoApp” to get started.
This build was compiled for the Motorola Droid, and while I was able to install it on my Nexus One, the user interface is very sluggish and doesn’t seem to respond to all button presses. I also had a hard time pulling up the on-screen keyboard, so I wasn’t really able to navigate to any web pages.
Bear in mind, this is an early development build, and installing it on your phone could cause problems. But you can check out two demo videos of Fennec in action courtesy of the forum member who compiled it after the break. I’ve also posted some screenshots of the key portions of th ebrowser including the bookmark and add-on managers and tab manager.