Mozilla offers alpha version of mobile browser for N810

Mozilla plans to release an Alpha version of its new mobile browser, called Fennec.

Mozilla plans to release an alpha version of its mobile browser today for Nokia's Internet tablets.

It's the first public release of the browser, code-named Fennec, and it will work on Nokia's N810 and N800 devices.

In addition to the alpha release for the Internet tablets, Mozilla is offering a PC emulator that developers can download to their desktops to see some of the features included in the browser and to get a feel for the user interface, said Jay Sullivan, vice president of mobile for Mozilla.

"This is really for our community to be able to test and localize and build add-ons," he said, referring to both the emulator and the Internet tablet release.

Despite being made by Nokia, the Linux-based N800 devices aren't quite mobile phones. They are larger than a phone but smaller than a laptop and can connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi. They don't include cellular capabilities, although users can connect a phone to the device to reach the mobile Internet. The devices are popular with developers because they use open-source software, but Nokia has not revealed sales figures to indicate how many are in the market.

Mozilla hopes that this release will result in some good user feedback, Sullivan said. "The next step in the road map is to start optimizing for performance," he said.

His group has simultaneously been developing a version of Fennec for Windows Mobile phones. While Sullivan said they've been working hard on it, he wouldn't reveal a release time frame for that browser. His group has also been looking at developing the browser for LiMo phones that are based on the mobile Linux operating system and for Symbian phones, he said.

Mozilla released a video in June that offered a first look at Fennec. One unique feature to the browser is that it displays control buttons, such as back and forward, off screen. Users flick the screen to the left or right to display and click the buttons. "One of our big goals is to take advantage of the whole screen, because they are pretty small," Sullivan said. The design lets a Web page fill the whole screen.

He also thinks that Fennec will be unique because Firefox developers will be able to build add-ons for it. "We don't claim to have all the answers. We want to build a great product but make it extensible so anyone can hack on it," he said.

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Nancy Gohring

IDG News Service
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