APP OF THE DAY: Firefox 4 for Mobile review (Android)

So you’re a big fan of Firefox, have an Android phone, and want to take the “awesomeness” with you on the go.

But what’s the new Firefox 4 for mobile actually like and should you bother to install it? We’ve been playing with the new app for a good couple of weeks now to see what’s what, what it offers, what you get, and whether you should upgrade. Read on to find out why this is our app of the day.

Firefox 4 for Mobile

Format
Android
Price
Free
Where
Android Market

 

Minimalist is certainly one word for for this Android app. Download the free app, fire it up on your Android device and you’ve got a firefox page staring out at you. There’s an address bar, and that's it. No clutter, no fuss, just a refresh icon.

That's great when it comes to knowing what site you want to look at, but what about tabbed browsing, bookmarks, favourites and all the other things that you like to use when you’re browsing the interwebs.

For this Firefox 4 for Mobile mainly uses hidden menus and actions that are revealed either by typing or swiping.

Swipe left for example in portrait orientation and this reveals the tabbed pages that you’ve got loaded (if you have any of course) and the ability to click on those images to access that page. Each page shows a graphical representation of the page where you left if and it’s incredibly easy to spot which page you want to switch to, as long as all the pages you are viewing aren’t virtually identical in their design.

Swiping to the right reveals bookmarks and favourites for you to mark, all there when you need them but hidden out of sight when you don’t.

Likewise that address bar isn’t just an address bar, but the “Awesome bar” in disguise, we say disguise, but in reality it’s just there waiting to be used. Start typing and it will pick up your search history, offer the ability to search Google or Wikipedia and even pick up on your Awesome bar details from your desktop version of Firefox 4 if you’ve opted to sync your accounts – very clever.

Syncing the two browsers (desktop and mobile) is very easy and because the system syncs every five minutes (or manually if that’s not quick) enough it means that you can carry on looking at a web link you’ve found in the office after you’ve headed out the door.

Elsewhere within the app you get pinch to zoom functionality with the ability to move around the screen at the same time (very similar to the iPhone) and the ability to enhance the mobile browser even further with Firefox add-ons. These can be anything from Personas to merely adding Twitter as a search option.

You can also search within a page, save to PDF, share a page via apps like email and Google reader, as well as the ability to play with HTML 5 friendly websites.

Of course all of this is irrelevant if the browser is slow and unwieldy and luckily it’s not. It’s fast, zippy, easy to use and ultimately a great browser to add to your Android phone.

Drawbacks? Well you will need an Android handset with some umph to run it and that means that early Android smartphones just aren't up to scratch, so it's best to check with Mozilla if your phone makes the grade. 

If it does, it's highly recommended.



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