Mozilla may be releasing the next major update to Firefox by the end of February. This has been revealed in a note sent from Mozilla team member Damon to fellow developers at Mozilla. In the note, Damon writes,
“We have to reach Release Candidate status as quickly as possible, ideally finishing the hard blockers by the beginning of February and shipping final before the end of February. We’ll need your help to balance these targets against the need to build a high quality product.”
While this may come as a sigh of relief for Firefox fans who have been awaiting this release, do note that the release date appears to be optimistic at the moment. As Damon reveals, the team traditionally completes work on 100 blockers in six weeks time. With work on close to 160 blockers still remaining, we will have to wait and see if the Mozilla developer team completes work on all of this by the end of next month.
Mozilla foundation has announced that the latest version of Firefox 4 beta for mobile phones is now out and is ready for download. If you own one of the Android or Maemo devices, you can hit the Mozilla website straightaway to download the latest version (Check out our earlier coverage of Firefox).
The new version is available for download in 10 languages and does not come with too many new features though it includes a new theme along with improved tabbed browsing functionalities. The main purpose of the release appears to be improved performance of the application. Firefox 4 beta for Mobile is said to be 60% smaller than the earlier version in its installation size. Also, this browser is said to be 25% faster than the stock browser that comes with the Android phones.
Mozilla makes an important point on their blog. Some technical limitations on Android OS would mean that upgrading the application to the new version will not automatically remove the older files that are no longer needed. So in case you are particular about the file size, consider uninstalling the older version and then install this new version of Firefox Mobile.
Following upon the promise made late last month, Mozilla has now announced that their full fledged browser for Android OS and Maemo are now available for download as public betas. These new Firefox 4 beta for mobile can be downloaded on your Android or Maemo phones by clicking here.
Mozilla has pointed out one of the best things about this new browser application is its responsiveness and performance. The browser is also integrated with Firefox Sync to create a seamless browsing experience across several platforms. The new features in this latest version release include
- Pinch-to-zoom (Android), double-tap, or use the volume rocker (Nokia N900) to zoom in and out
- Tabbed browsing in thumbnail view lets you easily see and open the site you want
- Location-Aware Browsing gives you content and info relevant to your location
- Find in Page in the Site Menu lets you quickly find text on the webpage
- Add Search Engine in the Site Menu lets you quickly add a new search engine to your Awesome Screen
- Context Menu lets you Open in New Tab and Share by long tapping and holding a link
- Password Manager lets you choose to remember site password to avoid typing
Considering that a full fledged Firefox app for the iPhone or Blackberry is not coming anytime soon, this is really a great time to be an Android user. What do you think?
Firefox loyalists owning an iPhone were in for disappointment yesterday when the company announced that a full fledged Firefox browser for the iPhone was not coming anytime now. But their situation is still better if one were to be reminded of the fact that other platforms like Blackberry do not have any Firefox integration in place. That might soon change since it is now learned that the Mozilla foundation may be working on bringing the Firefox Home app for Blackberry and Symbian platforms. As you may already know, Firefox Home is unlike a typical mobile browser and instead offers tight integration with the Firefox browser on a desktop with the help of Firefox Sync. The app will help in seamless transition of platforms as the user switches from a computer to their mobile platform.
Now, if you are wondering about what’s cooking on the Android front, it may be worth noting that Mozilla should soon be launching a full-fledged mobile browser on this platform soon. Android and Maemo/MeeGo users should be late to the party, but it is going to be well worth it.
If you are one of those loyal Firefox users, then here’s some bad news. Mozilla Firefox is not coming to the iPhone anytime now. This is despite the fact that Apple has eased its earlier restrictions on the kind of third party apps that they would approve for the App Store. In a recent statement, Mozilla has said,
“We are working to bring as much of your Firefox experience as possible to Firefox Home. People have asked about adding more browser-like features to Firefox Home, but there are technical and logistical restrictions that make it difficult, if not impossible, to build the full Firefox browser for the iPhone. We are focused on building Firefox Home as a rich, cloud-based application and making it a valuable product that people will continue to love and use.”
So, there you go. Mozilla has not refused to build a full fledged browser out of any strategic reasons. Instead, it appears to be technical; at least for the moment. Of course, Firefox Home app for iPhone will give you a good browsing experience given its integration with the Firefox platform. But in case you are looking for an iPhone app that’s better than the native Mobile Safari on the iPhone, then you could probably check out Opera Mini. That’s your best bet for now.
As a way to kick off the new service, Mozilla Labs is now inviting developers to participate in their Game On 2010 international contest that will reward developers for the games that they build for the new project. The details of the contest have not been announced though.
The new announcement is exciting coming on the heels of news from several companies including Google, Facebook and Apple about new social gaming applications for their respective platforms. Mozilla Labs’ initiative could extend this trend to the web browser. Gaming is definitely one area that tech companies are betting their future growth on and it will be interesting to see what Mozilla brings to the table.
For more than a year, Mozilla has been offering its users the ability to sync their browsers with the experimental Mozilla Weave add-on. The script, available from Mozilla’s Weave website allowed users to synchronize their bookmarks, browsing history and password across multiple computers.