Mozilla's new Firefox beta for Android improves speed, size

The Firefox 4 beta version is 25 per cent faster than Android's stock browser, according to Mozilla.

Mozilla has released an faster, smaller beta version of its Firefox 4 browser for Android-based smartphones with an improved user interface, according to a Thursday blog post.

The new beta version requires only 17 MB of storage space instead of about 43 MB, but Mozilla still sees room for further improvement, though. Users of the previous beta version will need to uninstall it and then install the new one in order to reclaim the storage space.

Mozilla has worked to speed up panning and zooming operations and reduce page load times, according to the blog post. On Android 2.2, Firefox 4 is now around 25 per cent faster than the stock browser, it said.

The interface has been overhauled to make it look more Android-like, while still maintaining a connection to Firefox for desktop platforms, according to Mozilla. Before the final version is released, Mozilla will do some further fine tuning, it said.

Users can now also share links from the site menu and undo the closing of a tab.

The Firefox 4 beta version is will run on Android 2.0 or higher, and has been tested on smartphones such as the HTC EVO 4G, Motorola Droid 2 and Samsung Galaxy S, and the U.S. versions of that phone.

The first beta version was released about a month ago. Mozilla is still not saying when it expects to release a final version. A new beta version is also available for the Maemo operating system used on Nokia's N900 smartphone.

Mozilla isn't the only company working on a browser for Google's smartphone operating system. Norwegian browser developer Opera Software said on Oct. 14 that it would release a beta version of Opera Mobile for Android within a month, which means the company needs to deliver before the end of next week to keep its promise.

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Mikael Ricknäs

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