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Firefox Cellphones Handhelds Software The Internet

Firefox 4 Beta For Mobile Now Faster and Sleeker 70

Posted by Soulskill
from the almost-like-some-sort-of-fox dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Mozilla has released Beta 2 of Firefox 4 for Mobile. Some notable improvements over the initial beta release include 'reduced memory usage, improved text rendering and a 60% install size reduction on Android (from around 43 MB to 17 MB).' Mozilla also makes mention that 'actions like panning and zooming are faster and smoother, and page load times are reduced from our previous beta. On Android 2.2, we're now around 25% faster on the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark than the stock browser.' A future beta release will enable GL acceleration, which should further improve the performance of the browser."
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Firefox 4 Beta For Mobile Now Faster and Sleeker

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  • Unfortunately there's no mention of Flash support.

  • 43mb to 17mb? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by iONiUM (530420) on Friday November 05, 2010 @12:58PM (#34138166) Homepage Journal

    That's a significant change in size. Usually when such a drastic change occurs, it means they originally included many things that weren't necessary. That leads me to believe they really didn't care about this before.

    • by Shikaku (1129753)

      or they used squashfs (which incidentally is included with LZMA support in every modern linux kernel)

    • by Rik Sweeney (471717) on Friday November 05, 2010 @01:11PM (#34138398) Homepage

      Usually when such a drastic change occurs, it means they originally included many things that weren't necessary.

      Meanwhile, at Mozilla labs:

      Developer 1: Hey Bob, did you run strip after you built the final release?
      Developer 2: Ummm... (looks at shoes)
      Developer 1: Oh Bob, you're such a silly sausage!

      (I imagine that Mozilla labs is a utopia where no one ever gets shouted at)

    • Re:43mb to 17mb? (Score:5, Informative)

      by kripkenstein (913150) on Friday November 05, 2010 @01:18PM (#34138496) Homepage

      That's a significant change in size. Usually when such a drastic change occurs, it means they originally included many things that weren't necessary. That leads me to believe they really didn't care about this before.

      That's not the case - we both care a lot about this, and did not include unnecessary stuff. See this blog post [limpet.net], specifically the section "Installation size: Problems and solutions", for the reasons.

      Basically, Firefox has some unique challenges to overcome, in that unlike other mobile browsers, it includes a complete web rendering engine (Gecko), unlike others which use the bundled WebKit. With some tricky methods (the custom linker mentioned there, and other stuff), it's now much better. You can also move a large part of it to SD now.

      We're going to continue working on this - we know how much users care about it, and so do we!

      • Re:43mb to 17mb? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by RichiH (749257) on Friday November 05, 2010 @03:52PM (#34140856) Homepage

        > You can also move a large part of it to SD now.

        That single sentence convinced me to give it another spin. Flash on my Desire is _extremely_ precious. Sure, this problem will more or less solve itself in a year or two, but when I see a _game_ gobble up 30 MiB, I truly question the developers' sanity and technical ability. It's nice that you guys are different :)

        BTW: New & faster Firefox for N810? Pretty please? Or should I stop hoping to really use that beast? A clear no is better than an endless maybe.

        In any case, thanks for your work :)

        • BTW: New & faster Firefox for N810? Pretty please? Or should I stop hoping to really use that beast? A clear no is better than an endless maybe.

          Sorry, we support the N900 but not the N810. There are just so many mobile hardware and software variations, we don't have the time to make Fennec run properly on them all I'm afraid.

          I like the Nokia devices myself - familiar Linux environment, open, etc. - so I'm sad about this. But we'll be supporting the future versions of them (running MeeGo).

          • by RichiH (749257)

            > Sorry, we support the N900 but not the N810. There are just so many mobile hardware and software variations, we don't have the time to make Fennec run properly on them all I'm afraid.

            Did you mean "any more"? I have Fennec running on my N810 as we speak..

            • Sorry, yeah, I meant 'any more'. The current beta and newer versions aren't being tested on the N810, while older versions work, as you said.
    • Or it was debugging code. I know when we move from development to final deployment builds of our app, the size goes from about 40MB down to 12MB once all the debugging and tests are removed.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jac89 (979421)
      Its due to a quirk of NDK apps on android. Before Firefox had to unpack its libraries and effectively have them in two places. Now they link back to the original packed files, its sightly slower but thats where the space savings comes from.
    • I'll bet the main difference is something like going from -O0 to -O2, and dropping debug code.

    • by Tukz (664339)

      Or it's BETA with several DEBUG options included.
      I promply deleted it from my Desire when it ate half my memory pool, since it doesn't even support installing on SD card.

      Maybe I'll try it again now.

  • No mention of whether it will do automatic horizontal fit of the text as in the stock Android browser. This is the single key feature that made me go back to the stock browser.
    • by mbrubeck (73587)
      This is a feature we want to add [mozilla.org], but we haven't got it yet. Until then, you can try the Bigger Text [mozilla.org] add-on, which adds simple font size controls instead.
    • by delinear (991444)
      Agreed, this is a fantastic feature for reading on such a small screen, being able to hold the phone in one hand and scroll through a whole article with the thumb of the same hand without any messy left to right scrolling perfect, especially if you're trying to follow some technical details on a build and need a free hand, but even for holding a hot coffee while you scan the news on the train. The best part is I've yet to see it break a site, it's very cleverly implemented.
  • How does this compare to Opera Mobile (not Mini)? I run Windows Mobile 6.5 (shed a tear for me) and use Opera Mobile, and am curious how much better a browsing experience I would have with Android + Firefox 4.

    • by mdm-adph (1030332)

      I don't know, but Android + built-in-browser should be fine, right?

    • by Namarrgon (105036)

      I ran WM5, 6, 6.1 and 6.5 for years before switching to Android, browsing with pIE, Opera, Iris, Torch, Skyfire and a couple of others. Opera & Iris were the best, and were usable but always somewhat sluggish and awkward, and I often reverted to my iPod Touch despite the lower-res screen. Then I switched to a Nexus One, and holy crap the mobile web is fun again :-) Chrome on 2.2 is easily faster than Safari on my wife's 3GS, and is far beyond compare to any WM6.5 browsing. Trying FF4b2 now, and while n

  • This device does not meet the minimum system requirements for Firefox.

    Promising indeed!

  • I don't recommend it yet. Tried to go to Slashdot right after installation: it loaded about halfway, hung for 30 seconds (not even the buttons below the screen responded), then crashed back to the homescreen. A few issues to work out, methinks.
  • on many android devices the space for apps is limited. even 17mb is significant. considering the built-in browser works just fine, it's hard to justify using 17mb of space for a slightly different browser.

  • I imagine the comments will be full of complaints about things not working even though it is a Beta. Much like the complaints against Diaspora even though theirs was an Alpha release.
  • So the important things first: Performance is VASTLY improved over the first beta. The first beta was basically unusable on my Captivate (AT&T Galaxy S). This beta, on the other hand, is actually fairly snappy. The JavaScript performance is excellent as well; in fact, on the Sunspider benchmark I scored around 3600 ms, which is a staggering 2000 ms faster than Dolphin HD. I can even run some of the IE9 Test Drive demos at acceptable framerates, bizarrely, and Google Instant works just fine on the de
    • by amn108 (1231606) on Friday November 05, 2010 @05:11PM (#34141868)

      As a web developer I strongly disagree with the notion that a phone should include anything as specific as "Android" in the UA string. It just means every mobile-aware web developer out there needs to SPECIFICALLY cater for Android phones (otherwise there would not be a need for the string, would it?). The right way to do these kind of things is with CSS and it's 'handheld' media profile (http://www.w3.org/TR/CSS21/media.html#at-media-rule). And on top of it, don't go ape with fixed widths ;-) You can also get the screen size via client side scripting host (Javascript) if you care about such things. Most of the time, if the site has been designed well, it will work just fine on any modern Internet-enabled phone.

      I think you would agree with me that polluting UA strings with specific product names is a BAD IDEA. You would say "yeah, they are already have been doing it for years with IE/Mozilla etc" but in any case, this has never been designed as a courtesy for web developers to make decisions as to what version of the site to serve. It's the last resort piece of information, in case you really need to know what browser user is running.

      If you really feel strong about this, at least think about including a profile of the browser instead - like the string "mobile", not "Android". Because otherwise we would soon need "iPhone", "Symbian", "Windows CE" or whatever mobile product is on the market at a particular moment...

      • by Abcd1234 (188840)

        Damn right. UA detection is a hack, plain and simple. CSS is the way this should've always been done.

        • by amn108 (1231606)

          Would you happen to know how one can recognize a handheld (in a good abstract way CSS does) BEFORE serving the page to said handheld? Because CSS only kicks in after the page is at client side. Of course it can reshape the content to a great degree, including hiding and rewriting it, but there is the waste of having to send it in the first place, knowing that it will be "discarded" at client side. Also, many handhelds benefit from less page weight to have to wait for and parse, that's where it would help to

    • by KiloByte (825081)

      Hell, that all-caps VASTLY of yours is an understatement.

      Fennec 3 takes ~minute to fully start on my n900. First it takes a long time to appear, and then there's an even longer wait for it to become responsive. I used it only because the alternatives (Nokia's MicroB, Opera Mobile) are a bad joke for basic functionality.

      Fennec 4b1 -- well, it's beyond words.

      Fennec 4b2 -- 12 seconds to start, fully responsive the moment the UI appears. It's also insanely faster -- Fennec 3 takes a couple of seconds to refr

  • Firefox on Android supports NTLM authentication with websites which the built in web browser does not support. This is required to connect to some of my companies internal sites which are setup to use NTLM authentication.
  • Morbidly obese patient is now slightly less morbidly obese.

  • > Some notable improvements over the initial beta release include
    > 'reduced memory usage, improved text rendering and a 60% install
    > size reduction on Android (from around 43 MB to 17 MB).'

    Can I run Fennec on my desktop? Pretty please? Scrap the crap they call a desktop browser, and use Fennec instead.

    I remember way back when Mozilla 0.9x was a painfully slow and bloated browser-cum-mailclient-newsreader-HTMLgenerator. People were yelling and screaming for a *LIGHTWEIGHT WEB BROWSER* dammit. Ph

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