At Firefox, we’re passionate about providing solutions for people who care about safety, privacy and independence. For several months, we’ve been working on a new strategy for our Android products to serve you even better. Today we’re very happy to announce a pilot of our new browser for Android devices that is available to early adopters for testing as of now. We’ll have a feature-rich, polished version of this flagship application available for this fall.
Always-on, always private: a new and improved mobile Firefox
Unlike Big Tech, which only recently started to put more emphasis on privacy, we launched Firefox Focus about two and a half years ago, a mobile browser for iOS and Android that allows you to discover the web without being followed around by trackers. While continuously improving Firefox Focus over time, we realized that users demanded a full-fledged mobile browsing experience, but more private and secure than any existing app. So we decided to make Firefox more like Focus, but with all the ease and amenities of a full-featured mobile browser. The result is an early version of what we currently call Firefox Preview.
Bringing Firefox Quantum performance to mobile, with GeckoView
With Firefox Preview, we’re combining the best of what our lightweight Focus application and our current mobile browsers have to offer to create a best in class mobile experience. The new application is powered by Firefox’s own mobile browser engine — GeckoView — the same high-performance, feature enabling motor that fuels our Focus app.
You might remember how we revamped the engine behind the Firefox desktop browser in 2017 enabling us to significantly improve the desktop user experience. As a result, today’s Firefox Quantum is much faster, more efficient, equipped with a modern user interface and clearly the next-gen Firefox. Quite similarly, implementing GeckoView paves the way for a complete makeover of the mobile Firefox experience. While all other major Android browsers today are based on Blink and therefore reflective of Google’s decisions about mobile, Firefox’s GeckoView engine ensures us and our users independence. Building Firefox for Android on GeckoView also results in greater flexibility in terms of the types of privacy and security features we can offer our mobile users. With GeckoView we have the ability to develop faster, more secure and more user friendly browsers that deliver unprecedented performance.
To speak more specifically about features, here are some new functions Firefox Preview will offer, partially enabled by GeckoView:
- Faster than ever: Firefox Preview is up to 2x faster than previous versions of Firefox for Android.
- Fast by design: with a minimalist start screen and bottom navigation bar, Preview helps you get more done on the go.
- Stay organized: Make sense of the web with Collections, a new feature that helps you save, organize, and share collections of sites. Quickly save and return to tasks like your morning routine, shopping lists, travel planning and more.
- Tracking Protection on by default: Everyone deserves freedom from invasive advertising trackers and other bad actors so Firefox Preview blocks trackers by default. The result is faster browsing and fewer annoyances.
For more information about how we’re planning to use GeckoView in our product portfolio, check out this blog post on Mozilla Hacks.
Be among the first to test
Before we release products to the world, we run many different experiments and tests which we learn from and help us make our products better for real consumption. For example, our Firefox Quantum desktop browser has a beta release, a separate channel aimed at developers or early tech adopters to test upcoming features before they’re released to all consumers.
Likewise, what we’re releasing today is an early version for our experimental browser for Android users based on GeckoView. Firefox Preview is a separate mobile application primarily aimed at developers and early adopters who want to help us improve Firefox on Android. The user experience of this early version will differ significantly from the final product, planned for release later this year. We’re counting on our passionate users to try it now and provide the kind of feedback (via email or on Github) that will enable us to release the best mobile Firefox possible and continuously improve GeckoView.
How our new mobile strategy affects existing products
For the rest of 2019, we’re going to direct our efforts into optimizing the entire Firefox experience on all Android devices. In order to have a strong foundation for the next generation of mobile Firefox browsers and put all our efforts and resources in GeckoView, work on Firefox Focus will currently be on hold. Don’t worry though, you can still keep using our privacy browser, Focus, as well as our current Firefox for Android.
Stay tuned for more!
We hope this update from the Firefox Mobile Team sparks excitement for the new mobile strategy we’re rolling out in 2019. We plan to take mobile browsing to a whole new level. No matter where, when or on which device, we at Firefox believe that you always deserve the best possible user experience. And we’ll do our best to bring it to your screens.
Try the preview of our new Firefox for Android, let us know what you think about this GeckoView-based mobile app and stay tuned!