Firefox arrives on Android

Firefox Mobile

Mozilla launches "pre-Alpha" build of the Fennec mobile browser on Android

Mozilla has launched a "pre-Alpha" version of Firefox for Android smartphones.

The mobile version of Firefox, codenamed Fennec, has until now been restricted to Maemo Linux and Windows Mobile handsets. But following a surge in developer effort, Mozilla has unveiled a build for handsets running Android 2.0 or above.

Mozilla is making no guarantees about the browser's stability. "It will likely not eat your phone, but bugs might cause your phone to stop responding, requiring a reboot," writes Mozilla developer Vladimir Vukićević on his blog. "Memory usage of this build isn't great - in many ways it's a debug build, and we haven't really done a lot of optimisation yet. This could cause some problems with large pages, especially on low memory devices like the Droid."

Mozilla also warns that the browser will restart the first time you open it, and whenever an add-on is installed, but insists this is a bug it's working to eradicate.

The Android build includes an "experimental version" of Weave, which synchronises bookmarks, passwords and browsing history with the desktop browser.

The arrival of the Android browser will once again raise the question of whether Mozilla is willing to bring the browser to the iPhone. Mozilla last year ruled out developing for the iPhone, claiming that Apple made it "too hard" and that the company "doesn't want outsiders to disrupt the user experience." However, Apple's decision to allow the Opera Mini browser onto the App Store may raise hopes of a Mozilla rethink.

Mozilla was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.

The pre-Alpha of Fennec for Android is available for download here, and Mozilla has set up a Google Group for feedback on the new browser.

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