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Firefox Mobile Beta App - First Look

We'd all but given up on Firefox Mobile: previous versions were slow to load and crashed regularly; syncing with our Desktop rarely worked; and we didn't like the way tabs were displayed. However, after seeing the latest beta release of Firefox's Android app, we might be willing to Firefox give it another go.

The new design looks great, although this wasn't a surprise because we saw leaked previews of how it looks in January. The homepage, called the Awesome Screen, doesn't quite live up to its name, but it's an improvement on older versions because it looks more like its Desktop equivalent.

On the Awesome Screen, you can see thumbnails of your Top Sites and restore tabs from you r last session. To scroll through tabs and open new ones, click the tab icon. Firefox remembers your open tabs if you hide the browser but, if you choose to quit the app instead, you'll have to restore tabs next time. Chrome for Android remembers your tabs all the time, but it doesn't have a quit option.

The Awesome Screen only appears if you quit the app the last time you used it. We'd prefer it to show on each new tab, like Chrome's homepage does on its mobile browser, but you can open it by typing about: home in the address bar.

However, Firefox's app isn't far behind Chrome's now. Its overall performance is much better; it launches quickly; tabs and web pages load fast; and syncing is slicker. You can manage your Firefox add-ons, as well as access the about:config options. And, even though it's in beta, the app didn't crash once.

That said, Chrome still has some great unique features, such as swiping between tabs, refreshing a page from the address bar, Incognito mode and zoom to click. All these would improve Firefox.

Until now, Firefox's attempts to cram its Desktop tools into an app haven't impressed us. But in this new version, they've pulled it off. If Firefox is your favorite Desktop browser there is, at last, a good mobile equivalent.