Firefox for Android

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Firefox for Android
Firefox logo, 2019.svg
Firefox Android 79 screenshot.jpg
Developer(s)
Stable release(s) [±]
86.0 (February 23, 2021; 12 days ago (2021-02-23)[1]) [±]
Preview release(s) [±]
Beta87.0.0-beta.3[2] / March 5, 2021; 2 days ago (2021-03-05)
Nightly210305 17:01[3] / March 5, 2021; 2 days ago (2021-03-05)
Repository Edit this at Wikidata
Written inC++, XUL, Java, JavaScript, Rust
Operating systemAndroid 5.0 and above[4]
Size
  • Android, arm-v7a: 63.48 MB[5]
  • Android, arm64-v8a: 69.53 MB[6]
  • Android, x86: 74.32 MB[7]
  • Android, x86-64: 70.25 MB[8]
TypeMobile browser
LicenseMPL
Websitewww.mozilla.org/firefox/mobile

Firefox for Android (codenamed Fenix, formerly codenamed Fennec) is a free and open-source web browser developed by Mozilla for Android smartphones and tablet computers. Firefox for Android uses the GeckoView engine.

From 2010 to 2011, the Fennec project additionally supported Maemo phones. Mozilla also makes another mobile browser for iOS called Firefox for iOS.

History[edit]

Firefox for mobile, codenamed "Fennec", was first released for Maemo in January 2010 with version 1.0[9] and for Android in March 2011 with version 4.0.[10] Support for Maemo was discontinued after version 7, released in September 2011.[11] The codename Fennec comes from the fennec fox, a small desert fox (just as the Fennec browser is a small version of the Firefox desktop browser). Firefox for Maemo Beta 5, released in 2009, was the first version to have the official Firefox branding, with the Firefox name and logo.[12]

Fennec uses the Gecko engine; for example, version 1.0 used the same engine as Firefox 3.6, and the following release, 4.0, shared core code with Firefox 4.0. Its features include HTML5 support, Firefox Sync, add-ons support and tabbed browsing.[13] The browser's version numbering was bumped from version 2.0 beta to version 4.0 to more closely match desktop releases of Firefox since the rendering engines used in both browsers are the same.[14]

Plugin support was initially disabled by default, removing compatibility with popular web content types such as Adobe Flash.[15] In September 2011, Flash support was implemented in pre-release builds for pre-Honeycomb versions of Android.[16] Flash support for Android 2.x and 4.x was enabled for most smartphones in version 14.0;[17] later it was removed in version 56.0.[18]

The last version of Fennec was version 68, released in July 2019, receiving bug and security fixes until July 2020.[19][20][21]

On June 27, 2019, Mozilla unveiled Firefox Preview (codename "Fenix"), a redesigned version of Firefox for Android based on the GeckoView engine — an implementation of Gecko that is decoupled as a reusable library, intended to be used as an alternative to the default Android WebView component.[22][23] Firefox Beta was migrated to Fenix in April 2020,[24] and it was officially released to stable in August 2020 as version 79, branded as Firefox Daylight. It includes the Enhanced Tracking Protection features from the desktop version, defaulting to an address bar along the bottom of the screen, support for dark mode, a new "Collections" feature, and a redesigned private browsing mode based on Firefox Focus.[25][26]

Add-ons[edit]

Firefox for Android allows installation of extensions; due to the change in architecture and the need to ensure that they are properly optimized for mobile use, Firefox Daylight/"Fenix" only supports a curated selection of popular extensions from the Mozilla Add-ons "Recommended Extensions" program, with only eighteen (AdGuard AdBlocker, Bitwarden, Dark Reader, FoxyProxy, Decentraleyes, Ghostery, HTTPS Everywhere, LeechBlock NG, NoScript, Privacy Badger, Privacy Possum, Search by Image, Tomato Clock, uBlock Origin, Video Background Fix, Google Search Fixer, Web Archives, and YouTube High Definition) supported on-launch, and planned at least 30 to be supported by the end of 2020.[27][26] On September 29, 2020, Mozilla announced an experimental mode in the Nightly pre-release channel to install extensions via a collection on the AMO website.[28]

Platforms[edit]

Firefox for Android, starting with Version 79 from July 2020, only runs on Android version 5.0 and later; earlier versions of Firefox also supported earlier versions of Android.[4] Support for Android devices that run Intel x86 processors was added in December 2013.[29]

Previously or unofficially supported[edit]

Previously, Firefox for mobile supported other platforms besides Android.

Official support for the Nokia N900 Maemo device ceased with version 7.[30]

Firefox mobile was available for MeeGo through the third-party OpenRepos repository.[31]

Firefox for Android 62.0.1 viewing Wikimedia Commons Mobile

An alpha build of version 1.1 (1.1 Alpha 1) for Windows Mobile, released on February 19, 2010, is the last build for this operating system.[32][33] Following the Windows Phone 7 announcement and Microsoft's decision not to release a native development kit, as with Android and other systems, development for Windows Mobile was put on hold.[34] If Microsoft releases a native development kit in the future for its Windows Phone OS, then Mozilla will consider again developing Fennec for the platform.[35]

Tristan Nitot, president of Mozilla Europe, has said that it's unlikely that a BlackBerry OS version will be released, citing BlackBerry's limited operating system as the reason.[36] Mozilla has no plans to develop Firefox for the Symbian platform,[35] or webOS.[35] An unofficial port to WebOS was made, but is no longer maintained as of 2011.[37]

An unofficial port is available for the Pandora handheld console.[38]

Firefox 52.0.2 was the last version to run on ARM devices without NEON support, such as those with Tegra 2.[39][40]

Operating system Latest stable version Support status
Android
(including Android-x86)
5.0 and later Current stable version: 86.0 (x64)[41] 2018–
Current stable version: 86.0 (ARM64)[41] 2017–
Current stable version: 86.0 (IA-32 and ARMv7)[41] 2014–
4.14.4 Old version, no longer maintained: 68.11.0 (x64)[42] 2018–2020
Old version, no longer maintained: 68.11.0 (IA-32) 2013–2020
Old version, no longer maintained: 68.11.0 (ARMv7) 2012–2020
4.0 Old version, no longer maintained: 55.0.2 (IA-32)[43][44] 2013–2017
Old version, no longer maintained: 55.0.2 (ARMv7) 2011–2017
3.0–3.2 Old version, no longer maintained: 45.0.2 (ARMv7)[43] 2011–2016
2.3 Old version, no longer maintained: 47.0 (ARMv7)[43][45]
2.24.3 Old version, no longer maintained: 31.3.0esr (ARMv6) 2012–2015
2.2 Old version, no longer maintained: 31.0 (ARMv7)[46] 2011–2014
2.1 Old version, no longer maintained: 19.0.2 (ARMv6) 2012–2013
Old version, no longer maintained: 19.0.2 (ARMv7) 2011–2013
2.0 Old version, no longer maintained: 6.0.2 (ARMv7) 2011
Firefox OS 2.2 Old version, no longer maintained: 35/36/37 2015
2.1 Old version, no longer maintained: 33/34 2014–2015
2.0 Old version, no longer maintained: 31/32
Maemo Old version, no longer maintained: 7.0.1 2010–2011
Legend:
Old version
Older version, still maintained
Latest version
Latest preview version
Future release
Notes
  • Firefox for iOS is not listed in this table as its version numbers would be misleading; it uses version numbers that do not correspond to any of the other Firefox versions. Those share a core component, the Gecko rendering engine, and track its version numbers, whereas the version for the iOS operating system uses the operating system's rendering engine (WebKit), rather than Mozilla's (Gecko).

Reception[edit]

Usage share of lesser-used mobile browsers since 2013. Firefox usage share grew through March and April 2014.

The main criticisms[by whom?] of the browser pre-version 14 were slow browsing speed, lack of plugin support and performance issues.[47][48] To address these concerns, Mozilla redesigned the browser in version 14.0, adding Flash support, improving start-up speed, as well as other enhancements.[49] This update dramatically improved Firefox for Android. As of September 2014, the average user rating of Firefox for Android on the Google Play Store is 4.4.[50]

Compared to the stock Android browser and Chrome on Android, Firefox has a small market share; for the month of November 2015, Firefox for Android usage share of all mobile/tablet browsers was just 0.81%.[51] Despite that, Firefox for Android enjoys a high Play Store rating, has over 100 million downloads,[52][53] and continues to be developed. The latest version supports Android 4.0 and higher (as Android 2.3 support was dropped in version 48).[54]

In its 2015 Android browser comparison, Spanish software news and reviews site Softonic.com awarded Firefox version 37.0.1 the Best of 2015 nod, with reviewer Fabrizio Benedetti citing a good design, efficient memory consumption, the browser's open source nature, and independence.[53]

In August 2020, Mozilla released a major update of Firefox for Android, version 79, which had been in development for more than 1 year with the codename "Firefox Daylight". It was described by Mozilla as being "dramatically redesigned to be faster, easy to use, customizable and private".[55] However, it received intense criticism from users, who complained that it was more difficult to use, and slower, and various features were suddenly missing. Some online Tech Writers even recommended people to disable the update if possible.[56][57][58][59][60][61]

Security advantages[edit]

A number of devices run older versions of Android.[62] Some would not be upgraded to newer versions because of insufficient technical knowledge by users, or their lack of access to mobile data; some devices cannot be upgraded because of low system resources, or the manufacturer and telecoms operator have failed to provide an update.[citation needed]

As of early 2015, Google has stopped issuing its own patches for Android 4.3 and earlier to the WebView browser component and the WebKit rendering engine therein, which are used by the native/stock and often default AOSP browser in a large number of Android devices – thereby shifting the patching responsibility to device manufacturers.[63] In time, the native browser or browser components become outdated, increasingly insecure, and unable to properly render modern websites.[64]

As a workaround, a Google engineer suggested using the separately-installable and updateable Google Chrome or Firefox browsers.[63] In case of Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0.x), Google stopped supporting that branch of Android with updates to its Chrome browser after Chrome 43, and moved up to Android 4.1 as the oldest release supported by Google Chrome.[54][64]

The open-source nature of Firefox has made it possible to maintain its development for operating system versions that are past their product support life cycle, and has resulted in Firefox having stronger security and better support for modern web standards.[citation needed] This in effect extends the useful lifetime of devices stuck on older major versions of Android.[citation needed]

Comparison of stock browser and Firefox 38 on Android 2.3 showing Wikipedia mobile
Android Browser showing faulty render of Wikipedia page
Stock browser. The search box is somewhat narrow, with instruction text cut off.
Firefox 38 showing proper render of Wikipedia page
Firefox 38: The search box is at full width.
Firefox 38, Wikipedia search suggestions
Search suggestions also work in Firefox.

Forks and code reuse[edit]

IceCatMobile[edit]

GNU maintains a fork of the latest long-term (so-called "ESR") version of Firefox for Android, with all proprietary binaries removed.[65] As of September 2020 there is no IceCatMobile version of the new Fenix browser.[66]

Fennec F-Droid[edit]

The Fennec F-Droid app is hosted in the open-source F-Droid app repository since 1 February 2015 beginning with version 35.0. Fennec F-Droid's goal is to remove all proprietary binaries from Fennec; some proprietary binaries, however, still remained in the app. Since September 2020, a version based on Fenix is available in F-Droid.[67]

Adblock Browser[edit]

On 20 May 2015, Eyeo GmbH, the maintainers of Adblock Plus, released Adblock Browser 1.0 beta, which is based on Firefox for Android.[68] The browser uses a similar blocking/permitting model as Adblock Plus, allowing by default ads deemed "acceptable" by Eyeo. A major drawback compared to Firefox for Android is Adblock Browser's lack of support for Firefox Sync.

Initial reviews have been mixed: On one hand, users would be happy to have less ads and resource consumption on their devices; on the other hand, web services, publications, content creators and bloggers rely on advertisements for their revenue and income.[69][unreliable source?]

Adblock Browser 1.0 was released on 7 September 2015. It's compatible with Android 2.3 or greater, and has about the same system requirements as Firefox for Android.[70]

Orfox[edit]

On 30 June 2015, The Guardian Project announced a stable alpha of Orfox, the new mobile counterpart of the Tor Browser. Orfox is built from Fennec (Firefox for Android) code and the Tor Browser code repository, and is given security hardening patches by the Tor Browser development team. Some of the Orfox build work is based on the Fennec F-Droid project.[71]

The project removed in Orfox the WebRTC component and Chromecast connectivity, and app permissions to access the camera, microphone, contacts (address book), location data (GPS et al.), and NFC.[71][72]

Orfox is to supersede the Orweb browser project, which used the WebView engine.[71]

LibreOffice[edit]

LibreOffice on Android

Firefox for Android (Fennec)'s front-end code was taken as a base for the new development in the LibreOffice project for Android (along with the pre-existing cross-platform LibreOffice document engine).[73][74] Further work made that Fennec code the core component of LibreOffice Viewer for Android,[75] which was released on 28 May 2015[76] for Android 4.0 or newer.[74]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Firefox for Android 86.0, See All New Features, Updates and Fixes". mozilla.org. 2021-02-23. Retrieved 2021-02-24.
  2. ^ "Releases mozilla-mobile/fenix". GitHub.
  3. ^ "Firefox Nightly APKS - APKMirror". APKMirror.
  4. ^ a b "Firefox for Android upgrade FAQs". Retrieved 2020-08-16.
  5. ^ "Firefox 84.1.2 (arm-v7a) (Android 5.0+)". APKMirror. Retrieved December 24, 2020.
  6. ^ "Firefox 84.1.2 (arm64-v8a) (Android 5.0+)". APKMirror. Retrieved December 24, 2020.
  7. ^ "Firefox 84.1.2 (x86) (Android 5.0+)". APKMirror. Retrieved December 24, 2020.
  8. ^ "Firefox 84.1.2 (x86-64) (Android 5.0+)". APKMirror. Retrieved December 24, 2020.
  9. ^ "Firefox for Nokia N900 Release Notes". mozilla.org. 2010-01-28. Retrieved 2012-02-09.
  10. ^ "Mozilla Launches Firefox 4 for Android, Allowing Users to Take the Power and Customization of Firefox Everywhere". Retrieved 2011-03-29.
  11. ^ "System Requirements - Firefox for Android 7.0 release notes". Mozilla website archive. Mozilla. 2013. Retrieved 2015-03-28.
  12. ^ "Firefox for Maemo Beta 5 Released". 2009-11-09.
  13. ^ "Mobile features". Mozilla. Retrieved 2012-06-26.
  14. ^ "Fennec 4.0 – New and Notable". September 2010.
  15. ^ "Mozilla releases Firefox for Mobile for Maemo phones". Techworld. Retrieved 2010-02-02.
  16. ^ "Support for Flash on Android Fennec". Retrieved 2011-09-21.
  17. ^ "Fennec Features Plugins". Retrieved 2012-06-26.
  18. ^ "Firefox for Android — Notes (56.0) — Mozilla". mozilla.org. 2017-09-28. Retrieved 2017-09-28.
  19. ^ "Mozilla's next-gen Firefox hits stable after a year of previews, without full extension support (APK Download)". Android Police. 2020-07-28. Retrieved 2020-08-28.
  20. ^ "Firefox for Android 68.0, See All New Features, Updates and Fixes". Mozilla. Retrieved 2020-08-28.
  21. ^ "Firefox for Android 68.11.0, See All New Features, Updates and Fixes". Mozilla. Retrieved 2020-08-28.
  22. ^ Tung, Liam. "Mozilla: Try out our new Fenix-based Firefox Android browser". ZDNet. Retrieved 2020-09-06.
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  30. ^ "No updates in Maemo5".
  31. ^ "Firefox-OpenRepos.net — Community Repository System". Retrieved September 16, 2015.
  32. ^ "Fennec Alpha for Windows Mobile Release Notes".
  33. ^ "Final Fennec Alpha for Windows Mobile 6".
  34. ^ "Stopping Development for Windows Mobile". Archived from the original on 2010-03-25.
  35. ^ a b c "System Requirements". /Mobile/Platforms/Android.
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  37. ^ "Fractal Brew". Fractal Brew. 10 October 2011.
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  39. ^ Mozilla Wiki - Mobile/Platforms/Android NEON. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
  40. ^ Bug 1305815 - Mechanism to exclude non-NEON versions. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
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  51. ^ "Browser market share". netmarketshare.com. November 2015. Retrieved 2015-12-03.
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  56. ^ Collins, Barry (26 August 2020). "Firefox On Android Gets A Major Update... And Users Hate It". Forbes.com. Retrieved 29 August 2020.
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  58. ^ Khalili, Joel (25 August 2020). "Users absolutely hate the new Firefox web browser". TechRadar.
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  62. ^ Waddell, Kaveh (2016-03-28). "Encryption Is a Luxury". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2016-04-23. Many Android phones also run outdated versions of the Android operating system, which leaves them more vulnerable to hacking. Even after Google releases patches for security holes, many phones don't get those updates, because of the decentralized way that Android phones are sold.
  63. ^ a b Dredge, Stuart (2015-01-26). "Android WebView exploits: Google explains lack of patches and advises users to switch browsers". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-06-04.
  64. ^ a b Brinkmann, Martin (2015-03-03). "You need to stop using Chrome on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich". GHacks. Retrieved 2015-06-04.
  65. ^ "GNU IceCatMobile".
  66. ^ https://f-droid.org/en/packages/org.gnu.icecat/
  67. ^ "org.mozilla.fennec fdroid". F-Droid Wiki. F-Droid. 2015-05-31. Retrieved 2015-06-09.
  68. ^ Williams, Ben (20 May 2015). "Adblock Browser is here". Retrieved 20 May 2015.
  69. ^ Leong, Lewis (2015-05-20). "Adblock Plus browser gets rid of annoying ads". Softonic.com. Retrieved 2015-06-09.
  70. ^ "Adblock Browser for Android". Google Play Store. 2015-09-07. Retrieved 2015-09-09.
  71. ^ a b c n8fr8 (2015-06-30). "Orfox: Aspiring to bring Tor Browser to Android". The Guardian Project. Retrieved 2015-07-11.
  72. ^ Long, Jacob (2015-07-01). "Orfox Is The Guardian Project's Latest App For Bringing The Tor Browser Experience To Android, First Alpha Release Is Available". Android Police. Illogical Robot LLC. Retrieved 2015-07-21.
  73. ^ Vajngerl, Tomaž (2014-07-16). "LibreOffice on Android". Development Blog. Retrieved 2015-06-09.
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  75. ^ Vignoli, Italo (2015-01-21). "LibreOffice Viewer (Beta) now available for Android". The Document Foundation Blog. The Document Foundation. Retrieved 2015-06-09.
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External links[edit]