Firefox Mobile coming backwards to your (ARMv6) phone

Firefox running on ARMv6 HTC phoneA few years ago Mozilla chose to focus on version 7 of the ARM platform instruction set (ARMv7), as it was the only one that provided the necessary performance to deliver a good Firefox experience, and much less crashing prone.

Fast forward, and as Ted Mielczarek, Mozilla build expert, explains, Mozilla has both now: a stronger mobile team, and a more complete picture. It turns out that about 60% of Android phones in use right now are ARMv6-based, which means 60% of Android phones can’t get Firefox. So it makes perfect sense to invest in having Firefox serve such a large mobile audience.

The ARMv6 instruction set is implemented by the ARM11 microprocessor family, running on a long list of well known, if lower end or a generation behind phones including the Samsung Galaxy Mini, Galaxy Ace, Amazon Kindle 2, HTC Touch, Diamond, LG Optimus One, S, Sony Ericsson Xperia X1, X2, and a very long etcetera. Check Wikipedia’s entry for ARM11 for a more complete list.

Ted doesn’t mention it, but I am guessing the decision to have Firefox use native Android widgets, as opposed to Mozilla’s own XUL-based ones, is also helping to ease processor requirements.

Work is under way, and while there’s a lot of ironing to do, Firefox is running on ARMv6. The picture from Ted’s Twitter feed shows Firefox running in an HTC phone.

In this scenery, and just like on Windows, Firefox would become more backward compatible than the OS maker. Chrome for Android beta is at this point only supported on Ice Cream Sandwich, Android’s latest version. (By the way, Chrome also has a crazy country-based restriction!).

If you are interested in the subject check Ted’s nice and detailed post.

Flash support added to native Firefox for Android

Despite Adobe’s announcement a few days ago that it is dropping Flash development on mobile platforms, Mozilla has announced that Flash is now a supported plugin in forthcoming native Firefox for Android.

A month ago, Mozilla announced that it would drop XUL as the language of choice to build Firefox user interface on Android, and will go with Android’s native widgets instead, as a way to improve memory usage and responsiveness.

As part of this same project, Flash support is now available in recent nightlies, which you can boldly test here.

Firefox to go with native UI on Android

Mozilla’s Johnathan Nightingale has announced an important change coming to future releases of Firefox on Android. According to the post, Mozilla will drop XUL as the language of choice for creating Firefox UI on Android and will use native widgets and interfaces instead.

XUL (eXtensible User interface Language), is an XML grammar used by Mozilla to define user interfaces for Firefox and Thunderbird. Gecko, the rendering engine is capable or interpreting this language and draw the user interface as required. The advantage of XUL has been that Mozilla only needs to compile and adapt Gecko for each platform in order to get the same user interface. Continue reading Firefox to go with native UI on Android

Firefox 4 Beta for Android and Maemo now available

Mozilla has just released Firefox 4 beta for Android and Maemo.

Improvements in this version includes much stronger support for HTML5 features, WebM video, latest CSS and JavaScript enhancements, boosted performance, multitouch support, and Sync, the Mozilla service that provides seemless integration between your desktop and mobile devices allowing you to carry your bookmarks, history, passwords and tabs wherever you go.

Now I really need to get an Android phone! Playing with an Android VM just doesn’t cut it.

More details in the Firefox 4 for Maemo and Android release notes.

Firefox for mobile version bumped to 4.0

Mozilla´s mobile team has announced that the next major update for Firefox for mobile will be bumped to 4.0, to align it with its desktop counterpart.

Currently about to go into beta stage, the update formerly known as 2.0, will bring much of Firefox 4 goodness including the same render engine whcih means enhanced performance andweb standards support.

Firefox 4 for mobile will be available for Maemo and Android users.