Mozilla has launched the first Alpha version of Fennec 2.0, which is code for the mobile version of the Firefox web browser. Fennec 2.0 is available for download for Google Android 2.0 and up or the Nokia N900 smartphone running Maemo Linux.
Fennec 2.0 Alpha uses the same page rendering engine as the desktop version of Firefox, but it’s optimized for mobile devices with small, touchscreen displays. You can access a list of open tabs, for instance, by swiping the screen to the right, or view other settings by swiping to the left.
Fennec supports add-ons, with support for Wikipedia, Twitter, and other search add-ons as well as extensions that add or improve features such as URL Fixer, a plugin that corrects common errors when you’re typing out a URL. While Mozilla says Fennec is the first mobile browser to support add-ons, I suspect the developers of Dolphin HD for Android would beg to differ.
Mozilla has also built in Firefox Sync functionality, which allows you to synchronize your browsing history, bookmarks, passwords, open tabs, and other information between Fennec and your desktop version of Firefox.
If you’ve been following the development of Fennec for Android and Maemo, you probably won’t find many surprises in the latest release. But it’s a bit more stable than previous builds, and this is the first version of Fennec I’ve tried that can be installed to an SD card on devices running Android 2.2. Even after moving the app to the SD card, it still took up more than 17MB of my phone’s primary storage space, but that’s better than the 28MB it used before moving some files to the SD card.
The browser is still slower than almost any other Android browser I’ve tested. It takes a while for pages to load, and zooming and scrolling aren’t particularly fluid. But we’re still looking at Alpha software. Hopefully things will get better before Mozilla officially launches Firefox for Mobile.
You can check out a demo video after the break, as well as a few more images.
Fennec 2.0 is available as a free download from Mozilla.