Why Fennec for Android rulez

Posted by Aharon Etengoff

Fennec is probably one of the best apps ever coded for Android-powered smartphones - even though it is still in beta. And here's why.

As Mozilla's Matt Brubeck notes, Fennec, like its PC-oriented Firefox counterpart, allows devs to code add-ons and customize any part of the user interface.

In addition, Fennec utilizes the speedy Jaegermonkey JIT, which runs JavaScript much faster than the default Android 2.1 browser - and is even starting to outpace the Android 2.2 browser in SunSpider.

Why Fennec for Android rulezOf course, the browser also allows users to seamlessly sync bookmarks, tabs, history, passwords and form data between desktops and mobile devices.

And, as expected, the versatile Fennec supports web technologies like SVG, ECMAScript 5, WebM, and HTTP Strict Transport Security.

"Part of the point of Firefox is to provide an alternative, rather than reuse the built-in [WebKit] browser engine," explained Brubeck.

"[As such], Firefox for Android is built on the same Gecko engine as Firefox 4 for desktop. That's how it can add new capabilities like SVG and ES5."

Brubeck also emphasized that although there was "nothing wrong" with WebKit (used by BlackBerry, iOS, Symbian and webOS), a growing number of mobile sites are currently designed to work only with WebKit browsers.

"This is dangerously similar to the [way the] web was ten years ago, when Internet Explorer had an overwhelming market share and many sites used IE-specific markup. 



"That made it hard for other browsers to compete, which killed the incentive for the dominant browser to keep improving."

Want to try it out? 
Fennec Alpha can be downloaded here, along with nightly builds and a list of compatible Android devices.