Mozilla has released an updated beta version of Firefox for Google Android and Maemo Linux devices. Firefox 4 Beta 2 for Mobile has a far smaller memory footprint, and a built-in crash reporter. The browser is available in 10 different languages now, loads web pages about 40% faster than the last version, and reduces battery usage. The Android version also features a redesigned and much snappier user interface.
The new browser theme uses menus, icons, and other visual elements that are more in keeping with Google Android’s default look. There’s also a new “awesomescreen” which is sort of the mobile version of the Awesome Bar. Both are designed to give you access to your most important information all in one place.
The screen is broken up into four tabs: All Pages, Bookmarks, History, and Desktop. The Desktop tab will only work if you have Firefox Sync installed on your desktop browser, in which case your mobile device will show a list of open tabs on your desktop version of Firefox.
Like the desktop version of the Awesome Bar, the awesomescreen will alter the results as you type, pulling in data from your bookmarks and history to help you find what you’re looking for faster. You can also enter search queries in the same bar — and click the search icon for a drop-down list letting you change your default search engine.
Overall I’m very impressed with the progress Mozilla is making on Firefox Mobile. My biggest complaint about previous builds was that they took up 30MB or more of disk space, which left me with very little space for other apps on my Google Nexus One. The new build took up just 11MB when I first installed it, and after I moved the app to my SD card, it took up just 104K (although once you start using the app, it will eat up some more data for settings, history, and other information).
The app still has some quirks: Pinch to zoom is smoother than in previous builds, but text still looks blurry for a moment when you first zoom in, before resolving into the default fonts.
On the other hand, Mozilla has added a killer feature that’s common on desktop browsers, but which I haven’t yet seen on any other mobile browser: the ability to undo closed tabs. The mobile implementation isn’t quite as good as on the desktop version of Firefox. Basically if you close a tab from the tabs menu, a little green arrow will show up letting you reload that tab — unless you navigate away from the tab menu. Once you do that, all is lost. Still, if used properly, this feature could be a real life saver.
You can find a few more screenshots below.