Mozilla Firefox Mobile review

Firefox has for years been a popular alternative browser on the desktop, but on smartphones it has been significant only for its absence. While Microsoft, Opera, Apple, Google and a host of smaller rivals have battled it out for supremacy, Mozilla has watched quietly on the sidelines, waiting for its moment. That moment has now arrived, in the shape of Mozilla Firefox Mobile.

Available only for the Nokia N900 at launch, Firefox Mobile (codenamed Fennec) represents the first official outing for the browser. You can download it from the Nokia OVI store, the Mozilla website, or directly from the N900’s application manager. Installation, as with most applications on the N900, is extremely straightforward.

Using the browser is equally easy. The first time you fire it up, you’re presented with a list of recently accessed websites. At the top of the screen is a combined search/address bar – Mozilla calls this the Awesome Bar – which allows you to search bookmarks, browser history and the web all at the same time. Type a term in and a list of results appears as you type, then you can choose to either click a result or hit return to search using the default search engine.

Mozilla Firefox Mobile

It works smoothly and seamlessly, and in this respect it’s better than both the standard Maemo browser and Mobile Safari, which perform their searches only on URLs. Panning around pages is accompanied by the sort of momentum effect we’ve come to expect from modern mobile web browsers.

What we really like, though, is the way Firefox Mobile is almost always in full screen mode. When a page first loads, the address bar sits at the top of the screen, but once you start zooming and panning, it disappears – to access navigation controls and settings, just swipe your finger left or right.

It’s here that Firefox Mobile begins to spread its wings. Swiping right pulls out a panel to the left of the screen hosting a series of thumbnail images, each representing open web pages – Firefox Mobile’s equivalent of tabs. Swipe left and another panel appears, this time to the right, displaying forward and back navigation controls, a button to get to the browser’s settings, plus a one-touch bookmark control.

Details

Software subcategory Web browser

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