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.
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”.
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!
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.