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Fennec – FireFox mobile web browser

Not so long ago Mozilla released FireFox 3, it was quite a big event, you probably remember the whole Download Day thing right? It looks like Mozilla wants to keep momentum (which is great) and soon enough they are going to release FireFox Mobile version, not to mention that at the same time they are working on FireFox 3.1. Fennec (that is mobile FireFox code name) is not a first web browser designed for mobile devices created by Mozilla. Probably not many readers remember project named Minimo mostly because of it spectacular failure, so will be Fennec any different?

First of all, what to expect from Fennec? First of all it will use the same rendering engine as FireFox 3, so web pages displayed in mobile Firefox will look the same on desktop computer including Flash objects, Ajax, DHTML and even XUL applications, the only VISIBLE difference will be smaller screen size. On the “inside” it will be as different from desktop edition as mobile device differs from desktop computer.

The most shocking news for me (i do not know why) was that most probably Fennec will NOT run on iPhones. This is because of strict Apple (or rather iPhone SDK) polices of what web browser can and cannot do. For example using scripting languages on iPhone is prohibited, i find it very weired. Sure scripts can be dangerous but almost every site uses them in some way or another. Without javascript support the only site we will be able to browse is web.archive.org i guess.

Anyway following systems will be able to run mobile Firefox:

  • Linux – in fact there is already Fennec pre-alpha version that can be installed on this system however it is not recommended (mainly by my common sense) to install it now
  • Windows Mobile – for sure version 6, maybe version 5 as well but currently even guys from Mozilla can’t tell, i believe that they expect compatibility with WM5 to be a side effect, i doubt they will work hard to to add support for outdated system, but time will tell. If you are interested you can download pre-alpha version for Windows Mobile using link provided earlier
  • Symbian – however as for now Fennec version is expected after stable releases for Windows Mobile and Linux

Some time ago Opera already published their mobile browser (Opera Mini), what will be differences between these two browsers? First of all Opera Mini is completely different browser then Fennec. Opera software generates pages quickly however it uses Opera servers, which pre parse pages first and then send it to the user. Fennec on the other hand do not use any proxy servers it connects to the server downloads web page and renders it on device.

As for now it is not sure what features will be available in the final release but DownloadSquad lists some of the most interesting:

  • Easy way to input text without QWERTY keyboard – sounds ultra advanced, but from what i have read it looks like it is the same address bar we have in FireFox 3.
  • Synchronization between mobile firefox and desktop firefox – this sounds interesting you will be able to move all settings from desktop firefox to mobile firefox including: open session, saved passwords and even open tabs.
  • Full web page views – well there is no secret that mobile devices screens are small so Mozilla team works on a feature which will allow to zoom selected parts of web page – nice.

Full features list can be found here, actually you will not find anything special there all features are probably the same as in the firefox 3, i can’t tell because there are no descriptions in the list. On Mozilla website you can also find performance test however i think it is to early to for that, it is wiser to wait for stable version or RC (Release Candidate).

Fennec should be ready by the end of this year. However a lot of mobile projects take a lot more time, then expected at the beginning, so i guess they are doing just fine.

Published inWeb Development