The Firefox browser has a rich history, and still remains one of the most popular browser choices for desktop computers. Its mobile companion integrates a host of subtle changes for the smaller screens, while also incorporating some of the most popular features established on the desktop version. The Firefox Beta has plenty of competition, but with Chrome showing that mobile versions of desktops browsers can work on Android devices, can the Firefox Beta follow suit.
The first thing you’ll notice when you load the browser for the first time, is the minimalist design of it. You’ll find the search bar along the top of the home screen, as well a few pre-determined websites you may want to check out at the bottom. Your first port of call should be the settings menu, from which you’ll be able to edit several parts of the Firefox Beta to optimise your browsing experience. The changes you can undertake are pretty staggering, but may be a little confusing for novices to mobile browsing.
Pressing on the search bar will bring up the stock Android keyboard, or a third party one, if you’ve one installed. As you type you’ll notice a variety of other websites appear underneath the bar. These include websites like Amazon and Wikipedia, and offer instant shortcuts to parts of their sites, depending on what you type into the bar. Websites load fairly quick, and even the most media-heavy sites only took a few seconds to completely load.
The main problems we encountered with the Firefox Beta is with how it displayed some websites. On the most part websites looked how you’d expect to them, but certain sites looked distorted, and scrolling with them became a real problem. Text would sometime look a lot bigger than it should, and in some cases it would look a lot smaller.
Despite its rather simple looking exterior, however, there are plenty of things you can uncover within Firefox. Articles and other text based sites can be saved in a PDF format that you can then send to other people. As with the desktop version, you’ll also find a dedicated add-ons page allowing you to install extra bits to flesh out and enhance the browser a bit further. We also liked the idea of the Find in Page feature that allows you to pinpoint an exact phrase within a site, although this had distinctly mixed results when we tried it out.
Mozilla have done a great job in bringing over one of the most successful desktop browsers over to the smaller screen, and for the most part, it works and responds well. It lends itself to a minimalist design that enables both novices and experts alike to instantly get to grips with it, while also providing plenty of sophisticated features that add to its appeal. It isn’t perfect, however, and the browser is ultimately letdown by poor website rendering, and the occasional feature that just didn’t seem to want to work properly. Your best best is to give Firefox a tryout, but stick with Chrome for now.