Mozilla has released another beta build of Firefox Mobile for Android and Maemo. The company is pretty much done adding new features to the mobile browser and is instead focusing on stability, performance, and speed improvements and promises that the latst version features more responsive panning and zooming, faster startup time, and faster page loads.
I took the browser for a spin, and it’s definitely faster than it’s ever been. Firefox 4 beta for Android launches faster and it loads web pages much faster. The browser still has a few odd quirks. For instance, when a web page isn’t fully loaded, you’ll see a checkered background instead of images and pictures if you try scrolling. But while I got used to seeing a lot of that background on earlier builds, it disappears rather quickly with Firefox 4 beta 5.
Another thing that’s always annoyed me about the browser is the font rendering. When you zoom in to read text, it always took a second or two for the text to change from a sort of pixelated state into something that’s easy to read. If you pay attention you can see that’s still happening with the latest build, but it happens so fast that you might not even notice if you weren’t looking for it.
But while Firefox 4 beta has a lot of things going for it including a powerful rendering engine, support for tabs and add-ons, right now there’s not even support for Adobe Flash. Hopefully that will change soon, but it still feels like the browser is still a work in progress, even as it inches closer to an official launch. While the desktop version of Firefox has been a leader in speed, support for web standards, and add-ons for ages, it feels like Mozilla is still trailing other third party browsers such as Dolphin HD in the mobile space.
Firefox 4 beta for Android is available as a free download from the Android Market. Download Squad reminded me that you can also grab the latest test builds for Windows, Mac, or Linux (pictured above) if you want to check out the browser on a desktop or laptop computer.