Mozilla Delivers Rebuilt Open Source Firefox for Android
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The first Firefox for Android release debuted in 2011 and didn't fully embrace mobile, offering up a sluggish and unsatisfactory performance. Mozilla has been on a mission since October of 2011 to change that, with a rethought and rebuilt Firefox for Android browser, which is officially being released today.
Johnathan Nightingale, Director of Firefox at Mozilla told InternetNews that the Firefox for Android improvements include mobile items such as panning and zooming. Going beyond that,he explained that Mozilla brought in its entire graphics team and gave them the mission directive that Firefox for Android must be excellent. To that end the graphics team has optimized graphics compositing from top to bottom.
While Firefox for Android is a rewritten browser, Nightingale emphasized that at the core. It uses the same Gecko open source engine that the Firefox desktop browser users. Both Google and Apple use the competing WebKit open source rendering engine as the underlying technology for their respective Android and iOS browsers. WebKit's pervasiveness does not mean that Gecko can't compete on mobile as well.
"Users don't look for platform they are looking for a browser," Nightingale said. "Gecko can be top tier and as a mobile browser it really understands the web."
While Firefox for Android has been optimized for Android, the core Gecko engine remains the same, meaning that web sites and technologies that work well on the desktop will also work and render in the mobile browser.
"In the ways that that it are most important, Firefox for Android is not a different code base than the desktop," Nightingale said.