Category Archives: firefox mobile

Firefox Mobile 16 & 17: continuous improvements

I updated Firefox Mobile Beta on my Samsung Galaxy SII a couple of days ago to version 16 and out of curiosity I participated in the pissing-contest which is html5test.com. It scored a whopping 372 points, which apparently makes it the best mobile browser (for now).

More important, as it is an immediate and noticeable advantage: reader mode. Reader mode,  as seen in the screenshots on the right, allows me see articles on e.g. the chaotic, non-responsive dewereldmorgen.be in a non-crowded context which is optimal for reading the article.

I also installed the latest Firefox Mobile Aurora (version 17) and I’m pretty pleased to see support for iFrame sandboxing (which would up the html5test.com score to 377) and integration with a.o. the upcoming Firefox Marketplace (which will also be core to Firefox OS).

So yeah, for me Firefox Mobile remains the best mobile browser no-one uses.

My failed Firefox Mobile Private Browsing AddOn experiment

Nope, there’s no Private Browsing in my favourite mobile browser (yet). But as I have Firefox Sync activated between my 3 Firefox instances (winXP@work, Ubuntu-netbook@home and on my SGS2), I very much want to avoid syncing some of my browsing history over to my work-laptop. Developing addons for Firefox has become very easy and the JavaScript API does include access to the Private Browsing features, I quickly wrote this little addon to switch between Private and Non-Private browsing via the context menu using the online addon-builder:

var pb = require("private-browsing");
var myItem = require("context-menu").Item({
label: "Start Private Browsing",
contentScript: 'self.on("click", self.postMessage);',
onMessage: function () {
 if (pb.isActive) {
  pb.deactivate();
  this.label = "Start Private Browsing";
 } else {
  pb.activate();
  this.label = "Exit Private Browsing";
 }
}
});

All seemed great on my desktop Firefox, but it doesn’t work on Firefox Mobile. I could have known, if only I had read the documentation a bit more carefully: the context-menu and private-browsing modules aren’t functional on Firefox Mobile yet. Guess we’ll have to be good boys (and girls) while browsing on synced Firefox Mobile. But instead we can play around with the online Firefox addon-builder, that’s (another kind of) fun as well!

Extreme battery drain on Galaxy SII

[Update: Firefox Sync does not drain my battery any more, but I’ve had similar experiences with Exchange Sync and Soundcloud. My latest discovery is Juice Defender, my battery now lasts between 36 and 48 hours!]

From May 29th until yesterday I was experiencing unacceptable high battery drain on my Samsung Galaxy S II with Ice Cream Samsung. Instead of the normal 24-36 hours, my phone only lasted for 5-7 hours. According to the battery stats, “Android OS” was responsible for up to 80% of total power consumption, where one normally would expect the “Screen” to be the biggest consumer. CPUSpy showed that my phone only rarely entered “Deep Sleep”. The problem only disappeared when I disabled “Data” entirely, not when just disabling “Synchronization”.

Based on information in this issue on the Android-bugtracker, I wasn’t the only one to experience this problem. There seemed to be multiple solutions which worked for some but not for others. Apparently “Android OS” was just the poor sucker to get the blame, while in fact other applications can keep your phone awake.

If you ever experience a similar problem, here’s how I finally stopped the battery drain: I uninstalled a number of applications and checked battery usage. If the discharging continued at the same rate, I re-installed the application and went for the next bunch. And just before uninstalling my beloved Firefox Mobile, I deactivated Firefox Sync, which I (only then) noticed was trying to sync continuously. Ouch! I removed Firefox Sync from the Synchronization services and battery life is back to normal since. One of these days I’ll re-enable Firefox Sync to see if the problem returns. If it does, I guess I’ll have to dive into ADB for debugging info and report back to Bugzilla? Good times!

Firefox Mobile Beta: native UI at last!

The wait is finally over, no need to go through the daily Aurora upgrade process any more; Firefox Mobile 14 beta (available in the Google Play store) is out with all the improvements that were in the Aurora builds.

The main differences with the previous (non-Aurora) versions: Firefox on Android doesn’t use XUL (the Mozilla cross platform UI toolkit) any more, but switched to native Android UI elements. This (and other less visible changes) results in faster startup time, lower memory usage and better overall performance. There’s Flash in it as well, but with ‘tap to play’ option so the impact, I’m happy to report, is pretty limited. And the start-page is pretty nifty, with “Top Sites”, “Tabs from last time” and “Tabs on other computers” on one nice screen.

I must admit I was slightly worried at first, as I couldn’t get Sync to work at all (“could not connect to server” and similar error messages), but after uninstalling Aurora, Firefox Mobile Beta can sync just fine. All in all Firefox Mobile is an even greater browser than it was before.

Mobile browsers: Opera Mobile 12 shines in html5test

Look at Opera Mobile 12 stealing Chrome Mobile’s & Firefox Mobile’s thunder:

And while there’s more to browsers then just HTML5-support, Opera Mobile 12 also seems to offer greater support for modern web technology features than IE9.

To be honest, Opera Mobile 12 doesn’t shine in the JavaScript performance benchmarks (2843,6ms for Sunspider, 463 on the Google V8 test, both of  which at least Firefox Mobile does a better job at), but with the upcoming Firefox Mobile 12 and the (Android 4-only) Chrome Mobile beta the mobile browser “wars” have certainly shifted into a -much- higher gear. Let’s hope Microsoft (and Apple, but Safari Mobile isn’t too far behind yet) follows suit.

While waiting for Firefox Mobile 11

I’m on the beta-release channel for both my desktop and mobile Firefox and my desktop has been running version 11 (with SPDY) for over a week now, but there hasn’t been an update for Firefox Mobile Beta in the Android Market yet. Apparently the Mozillians are working hard to finish the complete overhaul of the front-end, which integrates with Android UI (instead of using Mozilla’s own XUL) and services (synchronization in particular).

As I’m an impatient guy, I installed the Aurora version of Firefox Mobile, which is already at version 12 and that runs surprisingly well. Firefox Mobile already had the best HTML5-support and superior JavaScript-performance, but the new version (be it 11 or 12) adds a lower memory footprint and (much) faster start-up-time to that (and it has Flash, which I don’t care for really).

Mozilla is doing a great job in the mobile space, with the browser, but also with WebAPI and B2G. No, I don’t think I’ll switch to Chrome Mobile any time soon.

Chrome for Android finally arrives

Just in from Google Mobile Blog: Chrome for Android is out in beta for ICS (Android 4) devices. I won’t bore you with the marketing video, but this “Under the hood” video is a lot more interesting:

Chrome for Android Beta: Under the Hood

Watch this video on YouTube.

Looks like the superb Firefox for Android is (finally) getting some competition. I guess it really is time to upgrade my Galaxy SII to the recently leaked ICS rom!