Over the last few months, we’ve made some great progress on bringing Firefox to Android. Michael Wu, Brad Lassey, Alex Pakhotin and I have been focusing on getting a build ready that’s usable by a broader set of people, and we’re now ready to get that build out there. This build should be considered “pre-alpha”, so there are some warnings and caveats:
- We’ve only really tested this on the Motorola Droid and the Nexus One.
- It will likely not eat your phone, but bugs might cause your phone to stop responding, requiring a reboot.
- 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 optimization yet. This could cause some problems with large pages, especially on low memory devices like the Droid.
- You’ll see the app exit and relaunch on first start, as well as on add-on installs; this is a quirk of our install process, and we’re working to get rid of it.
- You can’t open links from other apps using Fennec; we should have this for the next build.
- This build requires Android 2.0 or above, and likely an OpenGL ES 2.0 capable device.
- Edit: This build must be installed to internal memory, not to a SD card.
There also aren’t yet any automated nightly developer builds or automated updates to this build; it’s even more of a pre-nightly build (even earlier than pre-alpha). But, it’s usable enough that we wanted to get some feedback on it as we continue to develop.
There is an experimental version of Weave that is compatible with this build: from within Fennec on your phone, open the Mozilla Labs weave page at https://mozillalabs.com/weave/ and click on “Experimental Version”. (It’s to the right of the big Download Weave now! link — don’t click on that one though, it’s an older version.) Install the add-on, then you’ll need to restart Fennec (swipe the screen left and then click on the “gear” icon to open the browser tools panel, then click on addons and click the Restart button at the top). Follow the instructions when Fennec restarts.
Should you run into problems, such as the app not responding or just giving you a black screen, you can force it to quit by going into the Android Settings, selecting Applications, selecting Manage Applications, then selecting Fennec, and tapping Force Stop. (A utility called White Killer, available from the Market, can do the same job with fewer clicks.) Worst case, uninstalling and reinstalling would clear out your profile and any saved data.
Installation & Feedback
So, now that you’ve read all that, you can download the build here — the easiest way is to download it using your phone’s browser, and then click on it in the downloads list to install it. If you’re reading this on your desktop, you can scan the QR code here on your phone, or type in the following address in your phone’s browser: bit.ly/fennec-android. You may need to enable installation of non-Market applications by going to Settings, Applications, and checking “Unknown Sources”.
We’ve created a temporary Google Group for feedback about this pre-alpha build. In the future we’ll have a more permanent way for user feedback and comments, but for now, please use the group to let us know what you think!