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Reinventing Firefox for Android (blog.mozilla.org)
721 points by mncolinlee 4 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 387 comments



To any Mozilla/Firefox developer reading this. I try to convert people to Firefox. The number one reason people switch, by far, is because mobile has add on support. So I say to push this front and center in marketing (I know this is a preview). People are reluctant to switch their desktop browser because chrome pretty much has the same features. But it they switch their mobile browsers they also switch their desktops to take advantage of the full feature suite.

And to anyone trying to convert your friends "mobile supports ublock" is usually all I have to say.

Edit:unblock == uBlock Origin (sorry, on my phone)


We're certainly aware of how significant ad blocking extensions are. This release required a great quantity of features with only a six month timeline until now.

We already support a very limited set of the WebExtensions API to offer features like Reader Mode. Rest assured that more features will land in the coming months.

If you're a developer and you want to help us, our Github site is at this link. We mark easier issues with a Good First Issue label. We also need help with translations, documentation, and even getting issues filed.

https://github.com/mozilla-mobile/fenix


The hard work you guys put in is always appreciated, FF in all its forms has become truly the best browser there is. That being said, how on earth was Reader Mode prioritized above adblocking?

As it stands, adblocking is "post MVP"[1][2]. QR code scanning, however, is somehow part of the MVP. This doesn't make sense to me: there are many apps that launch the default system browser when scanning a URL QR code. You can easily get by without that functionality in the browser.

The comments in this post should be sending you really loud signal: technical users (the type of people who install preview software) don't consider a browser without adblocking MVP. You are drastically underestimating the significance of adblocking extensions.

[1]: https://github.com/mozilla-mobile/fenix/issues/96 [2]: https://github.com/mozilla-mobile/fenix/issues/2622 [3]: https://github.com/mozilla-mobile/fenix/issues/113


I understand where you're coming from, but I honestly find Firefox Preview's built-in tracking protection blocks enough ads on its own. I'd encourage you to give it a shot. (Though, to reassure you: proper adblocking is on the roadmap.)

On the other hand, QR code scanning is necessary for a good Firefox Sync setup experience, and that genuinely seems crucial to the MVP: we don't want your data stranded on one device unless that's explicitly what you want.


Any idea why after sync I can see history from my desktop browser, but no bookmarks? There are only 3 clean folders on Firefox Preview.


That's upsetting. Please do report bugs. We do fix them. Bookmark sync had been working in Nightly for weeks, so I'm really surprised. I imagine it's hitting some kind of exception on your bookmarks.



It looks like that should have been resolved a month ago with build 1.0.1921 (https://github.com/mozilla-mobile/fenix/issues/2252)... are you sure your bookmarks are set to sync (check in about:preferences on desktop)? If so, try forcing a new sync Firefox Preview by hitting Settings -> Sync -> Sync Now.


Yes, the only thing I'm not syncing are passwords. Are those 3 folders under "Desktop Bookmarks" visible in clean install before syncing? https://imgur.com/q1W7GgZ Maybe it's synced somehow only partially? All those folders are empty. And also on my desktop browser I can't see bookmarks I created in FP. I tried hitting "Sync Now" multiple times since yesterday, it always looks like it's working, after a second there's "Last synced: 0 minutes ago"

And I don't see FP under devices in https://accounts.firefox.com/settings/clients?service=sync&c....


for passwords you can just use the firefox lockwise app


I removed FP and installed it again, this time with pairing through QR code, it again looks like it's working perfectly, but I can't see bookmarks, only history. And there is no mobile session under devices in https://accounts.firefox.com/


I'm not sure if it's prioritization so much as just Reader mode being easier because it doesn't need that much from the extension API. Adblockers need to do more browser-level things like intercept HTTP requests, while Reader mode can be done with just DOM/CSS manipulation.


Also, reader mode is the only way non-mobile websites are readable on my phone. I left chrome on my phone for it (now I use Firefox Focus as my primary mobile browser for the vastly better privacy, but very much miss that it seems to have no reader mode). If this has reader mode I am absolutely going to use it as my backup for when Focus breaks a site over Chrome.

When it came out I considered reader mode a killer feature, and coincidentally it also tends to remove the ads. Or at least the ones not embedded in an article, which is good enough for me as long as they remain stationary.


When Chrome first came out I stopped using it cause it didnt have adblock. Then when it did it was still crippled and I realized Google is in the Ad business so I never used Chrome since. This is very correct adblocking is a necessity, if they even include a Mozilla Adblocking DNS server for the browser thats fine to me. As long as I dont see ads.

I wont give up on Firefox anytime soon. I would love to see some serious competitors though.


I don't want my browser ignoring my DNS settings!


I would assume it would be opt-in if they went with this.


Everyone switched to ublock once adblock+ starting taking payments to not block certain ads.

Most people who care about adblocking will choose whatever browser suppoerts adblocking over anything else honestly.


> We're certainly aware of how significant ad blocking extensions are. This release required a great quantity of features with only a six month timeline until now.

It is always soft of amusing to watch companies make all kinds of unforced errors with their products because the managers feel that they know much better than the users of the product what should be important to users. They fail all the time just to have someone else come in and say "Oh, those people, they were just holding the instructions wrong" and go repeating the same mistake.

So far in this ( software + hardware space ) there has been exactly one company that nailed it. The company is called Apple and the product is called iPhone. Since that point on Apple has not introduced anything that was not a direct play on "Our users want X, we are going to give them X, maybe with a bit of a twist"

The users are telling you that the USP of Firefox is ad blocking. If your PM says it is something else, you should replace the PM. That should be your singular focus. Everything else is secondary.


I agree with you 100% both about ad blocking being essential and product managers being tone deaf to user's priorities, however, I don't see Apple as any paragon in this regard.

> Apple has not introduced anything that was not a direct play on "Our users want X, we are going to give them X, maybe with a bit of a twist"

Unless you want plug-ins in a mobile browser or a headphone jack or ... well, too many things to list really. Apple mobile/tablet software experiences are some of the worst offenders of "We'll tell you how you should want it and if you don't agree, you're just wrong and we're right."


> We're certainly aware of how significant ad blocking extensions are. This release required a great quantity of features with only a six month timeline until now.

A usable night mode e.g. invert the topbar icons and change the white screen you see before the page loads combined with an existing dark theme would be an easy feature to implement and would put it miles ahead of other mobile browsers too. I presently have to use Swift for Samsung to overlay a proper black theme (with white icons etc), but still get bright white when loading pages.


I'm sending this from it right now using the dark theme it comes with, dark bar (at the bottom), it has exactly what you're asking for! I'm really happy about this; dark with bar at bottom is what I've always wanted.


Im an idiot.... just tested it. Beautiful. Its nearly perfect now. Still blasts you with white in some situations but maybe thats due to the coding of the webpage as it loads. Im seriously impressed.


Actually... Id like a black theme as well as just a dark theme. Thanks.


Fullscreen mode would be good. And bookmarks seem like something of a car-crash. They're in there somewhere but it looks like Collections are easier to get to so obviously they're going to get used instead. I don't care what they're called - i just need a way of getting to frequently used urls. And it would be good if I could rename bookmarks/urls/items in collections because currently i'm stuck with whatever the site owner put there which means I end up with 4 links all called "train timetable" instead of "luton-london","london-luton","luton-tring","tring-luton". I would suggest firefox developers use both collections and bookmarks and see how many clicks they have to use, if they have to stretch their thumbs etc, and ask if there's a better way.

And..where to report this sort of thing? There seem to be about 7 different rival official locations.


F11 is full screen unless I'm missing something? It has been better than chrome in full screen for a while now bc if the floating Omni bar


Firefox for Android... Android.


Ad blocking is the only reason I use Firefox mobile.


Not just ad blocking extensions though. Being able to run Dark Reader and Stylus on my phone is great. I appreciate it a lot, thanks


It's very fast. But there's no full screen option, which is surprising.


You don't have to release unfinished software.


It's almost like it was labeled as a Preview for a reason.


There's no such thing as finished software.


What a ridiculous claim. Of course there is finished software. If you need a subscration calculator what do you do when it can do substraction? Add addition?

That's how we end up with this disgusting bloated software world we live in. Why do I need a calculator app with food delivery service?


Dead software is finished software.


It's abandoned, not finished.


It is the nature of open source. I personally prefer it. Anyways, they didn't claim it was unfinished. Projects like these are never "finished".


It's not released yet.


Strongly seconding. The one and only reason I bothered to switch from Chrome to Firefox on Android was because I could install uBlock Origin on it. It's also the reason I installed Firefox on my wife's smartphone, and why I keep recommending it to friends and family members.

(Of course, some time later I realized what "extensions enabled" truly means, and started using other extensions I have enabled on my desktop browser too :).)


kiwi browser,based on Chromium also supports for Chrome browser extensions now.


I moved to firefox on mobile explicitly because the context menu has options I use. Google Chrome dropped almost all the options, and annoyed me to know end. IMO Mozilla is the only option to keep the web free. Google won't even remotely have your interests even in mind for the changes they make.


Also, they should integrate Firefox Preview into F-Droid if they are serious about privacy/freedom.


^ THIS.

Please listen Mozilla. Firefox is the only browser that works as intended for me, on mobile. Cookie AutoDelete + uBlock Origin and Dark Reader. What a blessing.


Hmm.

Using Firefox because it has a particular technological feature is a political choice. That political stance would lead users to turn to other browsers as fast as tech is added or removed.

I use Firefox for political reasons and for what it stands.

Which means that when Firefox gets worse I still use it and support what it stands for.

It's very Stallmanesque and let it be clear I am not saying the choice to favour superior tech over ethic concerns is wrong. It's just a different choice.

That's what I tell people when talking about Signal and messenger, Chrome and Firefox.

Also, I don't think Mozilla is a white knight and in my opinion they fucked up some good things over the years (tech or ethic). But the good still largely surpasses the bad.


It's great that you have political reasons to use Firefox. But to be most effective, you have to recognize that most other users won't care about it that strongly, so you have to use arguments that matter to them in a practical way.

This way, you can switch your acquaintances to use Firefox, and they'll stay with it by inertia. I'd say that's a win-win.


> It's great that you have political reasons to use Firefox.

I don't think I am making myself clear. Everyone has a cultural and political profile that dictates some choices and it doesn't matter if they acknowledge it or not.

> But to be most effective, you have to recognize that most other users won't care about it that strongly, so you have to use arguments that matter to them in a practical way.

Oh, but the privacy and anti-ad argument is a strong political argument that will outlive the tech of the day.

> and they'll stay with it by inertia.

And if Mozilla pulls a google and becomes evil, that inertia is now a problem you have to overcome on other grounds than the tech.

It's an easy and short term win-win until the next HN article "ff slower than chrome in test XYZ, jump ships everyone !".


> Oh, but the privacy and anti-ad argument is a strong political argument that will outlive the tech of the day.

Right, but that doesn't matter an inch if you can't use it to convince people to switch to a FLOSS browser.

> It's an easy and short term win-win until the next HN article "ff slower than chrome in test XYZ, jump ships everyone !".

And then it's time to make political arguments, when they're already using Firefox, are accustomed to it and have all its configurations and workflows in this tool. This way you use the powerful force of inertia in your favor, instead of fighting it.


I wish iOS version had addons to block ads. (I know Apple doesn't allow that) I still use it because of the synchronization and because Firefox is awesome. :)


iOS Firefox is not really Firefox. It's a Safari skin, because Apple doesn't like competition.


Not that I want to defend them, but it does have a nice side effect that web developers must run their sites in some browser other than Chrome (even if they ignore Firefox).


So much of this. Too bad many people who love Firefox don't get how important that Apple decision is for survival for non-Chromium browsers..


Safari is a webkit browser, off of which Chromium/Blink is a fork. So, it's not really a point in favor of real diversity on the web.


There have been enough divergences between Webkit and Blink that I wouldn't consider them the same engine anymore, just like I wouldn't consider WebKit and KHTML/KJS to be the same.


non-chromium browsers only matter if the owner in question actually has any incentive to give users more control. Apple exercises even tighter control over their software than Google.

Firefox matters not because it's "not chromium" but because it's firefox, a non-profit dedicated to an open web.


Firefox matters because they're dedicated to an open web, but Firefox is usable by the general public because web developers are forced to support multiple engines if they want to work on iOS. These are two different things and both are important.

(Note: I've been running Gecko based browsers almost since the beginning. I guess in those days it was probably easier to use a browser that isn't perfectly supported, but I'd probably do it again if it came to it. But I can recommend Firefox to whoever I want, since it works on every site except Linked In. I couldn't do that if it only worked well on one in two or three or four sites.)


Well Apple has a built in content blocking framework for iOS. Chrome doesn’t....


Do you have a link to back this up?


Its not actually safari, but it is webkit.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firefox_for_iOS

> Unlike Firefox on Android, Firefox for iOS does not support browser add-ons. Additionally, it uses Apple's Webkit rendering engine, rather than Mozilla's Gecko.



iOS has native support for ad blockers.


FireFox Focus also functions as an excellent ad blocker for iOS Safari.


iOS has native support for a subset of the rules in blockers like uBlock Origin.


True! Especially on the phone it bothers me terribly!


Then go to any news site and show them reader mode. It's an irresistible one-two punch.


I also think they should fix zooming and un-zooming with the Mac trackpad for desktop Firefox. I had someone switch and they were so used to zooming in using the trackpad, they couldn't stay on Firefox. There is a 3rd party extension that fixes this, but should it not be built-in?


Actively being worked on at the moment.


I feel like this is a running joke at this point. I've been waiting on this since getting a mbp in 2003. I swear it has been under development the whole time. Or, at worse, blocked by rendering engine updates. People always seem hopeful the next major rendering update will make it usable.

https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=789906

Bug opened seven years ago. It looks like the only real updates in the last year are a non-dev advocating for it.

Good to hear it's getting some attention behind the scenes. I'm a little sad the driving factor is probably just mobile. Given that it already seems to work in the mobile Firefox Preview, apparently using gecko, it gives me a little hope we may one day see this on the desktop.


I think at this point all the mac issues can only be solved if someone does a kickstarter specifically for mac and hires a bunch of developers and contributes the resulting code to upstream.


Do you have a link for where this is being worked on?


Thank you Mozilla team for making this great browser! I am a happy user since it was first released. Super happy with how fast the browser is now. I think Firefox always is ahead with great features and better UX. (Lazy tab loading, sticky tabs, containers, no video autoplay, to name a few) Also plugin support on mobile is how I converted several chrome users :)

I hope "collections" will come to the desktop too. Are there plans?


I use firefox on desktop. But on mobile one major blocker for me is that Google assistant does not work with firefox browser on android.


How do you mean? I wasn't aware the assistant really did anything with Chrome. Certainly it renders some search results using the android webview. But otherwise, it launches any pages you click in whatever browser you want. Inside of Chrome, what assistant features are there? The voice recognition is part of the keyboard so all apps have that. Genuinely not sure what you're referring to.


Hmm I see. I think I was getting confused since I searched for browser app in settings and ended up setting browser app as well as Voice and Assist app as Firefox as they are in the same submenu.

If I choose Voice and Assist app as Firefox instead of Google then active edge, Ok Google does not work. May be I could just try setting browser app to firefox.

Let me give this combination a try for a few days. Browser is firefox and assist app is google which as you say still renders some links in android webview.


Yeah, the assist app and default browser aren't really related settings.

"Assist app" settings determines which app can respond to assistant invocations (ok google, long press home, squeezing the phone...) and grants special assistant privileges to app.

Default browser is another setting :)


Also the news on the Google app (the most easily accessible one with a left swipe), also open in I guess Android Web View. I use my mobile browser mostly for news articles and less often for opening other websites. Will still end up using Chrome like stuff I guess.


Also please reduce the amount of different available versions to 2 max! The current release, and the preview in Beta channel.


it doesn't have pull down to refresh and other browsers like Edge,Bromite, Brave or Kiwi have ad blocker out of box


Tried to Google it, what is mobile supports unblock?


He almost certainly means uBlock Origin.


Correct! And thanks, I fixed it.


Maybe he/she meant "ublock"?


It supports extensions in general, specifically one of the best ad blockers, ublock origin.


This is precisely why I use Firefox.


I just switched to the current Android Firefox a few weeks ago and I must say I find it very hard to go back to Chrome. uBlock and Dark Reader make the phone browsing experience a remarkable amount more pleasant.

Chrome's general UI interaction is definitely more polished and snappier all around, but browsing mobile with good ad blocking, and not getting blasted in the face by stark white pages more than covers for Firefox's warts.


It should probably be noted that this Firefox Preview they are announcing doesn't yet have Add-On support.

But I agree, uBlock Origin makes the mobile web far less painful. Also, I'll point out that you want to be using uBlock Origin, not uBlock. As I recall, Raymond Hill (the creator of uBlock) decided to hand over uBlock Firefox to one of the contributors to offload some of the maintenance burden but then the new owner immediately started trying to monetize it which prompted him to create uBlock Origin.


Last time I checked, Raymond Hill's website didn't even have a donation button. This is an incredibly generous stance for him to take but if he doesn't want money himself maybe he could collect funds for a charity. I really feel I owe someone for this software.


Raymond outlines his reasons for refusing donations on the ublock wiki, if anyone is curious: https://github.com/gorhill/uBlock/wiki/Why-don't-you-accept-...

One thing he (rightfully) points out is that the real power of ad-blocking solutions comes from the community-maintained blocking lists. In theory one could manually block every url they run across, but in practice we can use these tools (or a tool like pi-hole) almost effortlessly.


Can't he just accept donations while also maintaining the same 'no expectation' attitude ?

Isn't it what donation is ?


on the other hand, political "donations"


Or just simply called donation


In theory I could do every computation my CPU does, but I don't want to.


It's free (libre) software; you don't owe anyone. Eventually you will encounter a bug or translation/documentation error in some free software; taking some time to fix that would help everyone. And so would making software to fix a problem and then releasing it under a free license.

It might not happen in the near future, but chances are eventually you'll get to contribute something. And even if you don't, just accept uBO as a gift from a nice person.


He wants people to donate to the people compiling the block lists.


I just have blockade installed and have ad blockimg acroos all my apps.

FF with add-ons run noticeable slower than brave.

https://blokada.org/index.html


In my experience the built-in tracking protection (now enabled by default) does a pretty good job.


I tried switching a couple of times but every time I face the same issue - the "touch" response is just _bad_ and I can't seem to be able to fix it. For example the "[-]" link on hackernews is almost impossible to click. I have to brute-force it by clicking multiple times, same applies for other websites where it doesn't seem to pickup the closest link I click.

On the other hand, the "Firefox Focus" app and Chrome do not seem to have this issue. Is there any way to fix this, because it's literally the only thing that stopping me.


There's Firefox Lite also. Excellent browser with in-built ad blocking and minimal RAM usage.

But I think it's available for Asian countries only.


Behind the Overlay, and uMatrix as well. My favorite quadfecta of extensions.


You better hope they add it soon. Firefox 69 will BE this browser.


you can have dark mode and ad blocker in snappier Brave, Bromite or Kiwi, as well as pull down to refresh


I'm aware that I'm reaching a Cartago-delenda-est situation here, but since I see some mozilla devs here I must ask: Is there any news about the deal breaker bugs that are still keeping thousands of people from moving to firefox on OSX?

I'm referring to the bugs that cause extreme CPU usage and as a consequence extreme heating and battery usage, mainly on macbooks with retina screens set to "more space" resolution.

I work in a whole building full of developers where every single mac user has stopped using firefox due to this issue, yet there seems to be a deep disconnection between how prevalent the issue is and the priority it seems to be assigned.

I hope I'm not coming off as an ass here, I'm just sad that I've had to move away from firefox and to see all my coworkers also moving to chrome.


Oh, that's why that kept happening on my Macbook pro? I thought I was loading a broken site or had too many tabs open like I always do.

For me adding "Auto Tab Disard" [1] (a Firefox equivalent of The Great Suspender for Chrome) has reduced my FF memory/CPU footprint by 10x. It defaults to 10 minutes which is usually long enough where you've mostly forgotten about the tab, then it will refresh when you focus on it. A feature fortunately becoming native to FF. I don't seem to have the previous performance issues anymore but I'll be looking for it now.

[1] https://addons.mozilla.org/en-CA/firefox/addon/auto-tab-disc...


> Oh, that's why that kept happening on my Macbook pro? I thought I was loading a broken site or had too many tabs open like I always do.

That's what I thought as well, but apparently it's something to do with the compositor and FF redrawing the whole window instead of just relevant pixels or areas - which provokes a lot of unneeded calculations -something specially damaging for users that have scaling set to more space (effectively a higher resolution).

That was my understanding at least, when I first learned about the bug many months ago. I followed the development for a while with no (public) improvements and now I just wait for news about the issue or something, but all FF related news so far have been about new features or products.


I really hate to be a “works on my machine” kind of person, but I’ve been running FF Nightly for personal stuff and FF Developer Edition for work on a variety of Macs for at least three years now and have literally never had any problem.

I am not trying to cast doubt on your experience, but I just wanted to point out that it isn’t universal!


It's really weird, because some people I talk to has never noticed a problem, yet I've been able to reproduce it (unwillingly) every time I've tried to install firefox on any macbook - different machines, different OS version, clean installs, you name it. It's just a matter of installing FF and using it lightly for some minutes (different websites too, or just showing the start page in the background) and the fans are already at full speed.

It makes me really confused because my current understanding on the bug doesn't seem to be compatible with the idea of only affecting some users - and to be clear I'm not casting doubt on your experience either, it's just hard to imagine how a performance issue regarding the compositor and screen redrawing could be affecting users differently.


Make a repro checklist and file a bug, if it's so easy to reproduce for you! Write down what you do, as you do it, and maybe devs could then repro it too!


Yeah, it's a shame that Firefox is unusable on Macbooks.

Subconsciously I started using Chrome on my Desktop more regularly too, since the abhorrent state of Firefox on Macbooks trained me into using Chrome instead.

The Firefox developers don't seem to care about the state of Firefox, on macOS, to be honest.

For example - This is a bug report I made 7 months ago of an issue that would be quick to implement, yet make a noticeable difference in UI on macOS (move the Share menu to the File menu). Nobody has bothered to respond. https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1512851


I'm with you on this, Firefox for osx is in very bad shape, i can only use it on my strong imac. Chrome had to stay on macbook :(


I run mostly with my laptop closed and two external monitors and the only time FF makes the fans run is one particular site (dailykos.com) which seems to make the CPU go nuts.

Otherwise, I've always been on FF from the Netscape days. I use Chrome when I have to (noticably Hangouts for a while), but otherwise stayed with FF without a problem.


Also, touchpad zoom on mbp is still not a thing in ff.


That's odd. I'm on a 2015 MBP with Mojave, and I recently switched from Chrome to Firefox because Chrome started causing intermitted freezes (even the mouse pointer wouldn't move). I've been on Firefox (and Safari) for over a week now. No issues.


Do you have your MBP screen's resolution set to "more space" on system preferences -> displays? Are you using an external monitor for FF?

(Just curious about how your setup differs from mine)


Sounds weird to me too. I've been using FF as my main driver on mac, high sierra then Mojave and I never had this problem. If anything it's google chrome helper that often becomes crazy eating my CPU cycles for just 4 tabs.


I dont envy Mozilla. The demographic that they're targeting are really hard to please.


You're probably right but, as a member of that demographic:

- I use Firefox, and have done continuously for a long time. I don't intend to switch to anything else, despite being very unhappy with the experience in many ways, as I consider it to be the "least worst"

- I genuinely believe there are very easily achievable low-hanging fruit that Mozilla could implement that would at least please a large swathe of their target demographic. Namely, not talking about privacy and then slapping Google tracking into everything they do. I understand that there's a revenue stream there, and a balance to be met between economic survival and ideal conditions, but this particilar issue is a deal tipped too far towards defying the point of the exercise.

Perhaps I'm in a bubble and this is just my "single issue", but shouting about privacy and sending all that data about their users to Google seems a fairly large deal to me.


> ...and then slapping Google tracking into everything they do...

Huh, I must have missed that - if true, this is a huge breach of trust for me. Do you have a link?


They do use Google Analytics on their websites but they do have a contract with Google that explicitly states that Google cannot use any of that data for tracking ever for any reason at all. Would make Mozilla rich if Google violated that.


Until it's provided I would assume that it's a gross misrepresentation/exaggeration.


Other than putting Google Analytics on all Mozilla properties as sibling commenters have already mentioned (link to info on that here [0]), there is also the following:

- as I mentioned in another comment, Firefox Preview comes with Google as a default search engine (not a huge issue) and with "search suggestions" enabled by default (which sends everything you ever type to Google).

- Even if you disable search suggestions (or change provider), Firefox has a built-in feature called "Google Safe Browsing" which collates every URL you visit and sends bulk reports to Google. This feature is only disable-able via the "here be dragons" about:config area.

- then there's Google Location Services, which sends your WiFi router SSID, SSIDs of routers in range, and hardware details, to Google. This is less clear cut as Mozilla's use of this service has been on-off over time, and varies per device. See[1]

[0] https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/privacy/websites/

[1] https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1512161


This amounts to far less than "slapping Google tracking into everything they do", which reasonable people would interpret to include just using the browser. Reasonable people also understand that performing Google searches sends data to Google.

Safe Browsing DOES NOT reveal URLs to Google. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Safe_Browsing#Privacy and read the protocol spec or Firefox source code if you doubt this.

> Google Location Services, which sends your WiFi router SSID, SSIDs of routers in range, and hardware details, to Google. This is less clear cut as Mozilla's use of this service has been on-off over time, and varies per device.

Mozilla has made a significant investment to try to get away from this by building the Mozilla Location Service. In the meantime it's a straight tradeoff between quality of user experience and information leakage. Experience shows that degrading the user experience for some invisible and small privacy benefit is not a winning strategy.


Safe Browsing doesn't report plaintext urls to Google. See https://wiki.mozilla.org/Security/Safe_Browsing and the more precisely the Update API it's using from https://developers.google.com/safe-browsing/v4/


Safe Browsing in Firefox is nothing more than a flat list of malware-laden sites your browser downloads. It compares your current site against the list to warn you if a match occurs. It does nothing else whatsoever. Even the most basic search of technical details would show that. Firefox code is also open to be read.


> Firefox has a built-in feature called "Google Safe Browsing" which collates every URL you visit and sends bulk reports to Google. This feature is only disable-able via the "here be dragons" about:config area.

Is this not 'about:preferences' -> Privacy & Security -> Block dangerous and deceptive content ?


"One of the most persistent misunderstandings about Safe Browsing is the idea that the browser needs to send all visited URLs to Google in order to verify whether or not they are safe."

https://feeding.cloud.geek.nz/posts/how-safe-browsing-works-...


Thanks for the clarification - this is all acceptable in my eyes then. Of course I never use Google Search (prefer Qwant, StartPage and DDG) and location services are never running in my browser. Safe Browsing - I prefer not to have it enabled, but it's not such a risk if it is.

This is quite a different thing from using Chrome(-ish browsers) with the "phone home".


Exactly.

This is what it comes down to: I still use Firefox confidently despite being aware of these issues, as I'm aware they're still very minor compared to running Chrome, or even any other Google-engine-based project.

It's still however worthwhile probing these issues. They're still far from ideal, even if they're preferable as a "least worst" option.


E.g. this issue about Google Analytics on about:addons https://github.com/mozilla/addons-frontend/issues/2785


I'm with you on this one. I don't think mozilla is as privacy oriented as HN would make you think.

* They pushed ad/extension for a TV show to everyone

* They silently served modified installers to a small subset of users downloading firefox which sent all browsing data to a 3rd party by default.

* Disabling experiments used for pushing the mr robot ad does not disable "normandy" - which is practically the same thing and they used to push new certificates once their old ones expired and broke addons recently. This feature is hidden in advanced settings.

And then as you say, using google analytics everywhere (giving google data), painting google indirectly as evil while having it as a default engine and collecting google money.


> I don't think mozilla is as privacy oriented as HN would make you think.

> * They pushed ad/extension for a TV show to everyone

I assume you're talking about the "mr robot" thing here as well. One can accuse it of being many things, but it wasn't a privacy violation, as no data was sent (or planned to be sent) to anybody, either to Mozilla or any third-party. (It was silly, an abuse of studies, a source of worry for those who monitor their list of add-ons for suspicious items, and a strategic error.)


I'm not sure I agree. I think everything users want is achievable. The current Firefox allows addons and ad blocking via addons. The Fenix update improves speed and adds some new features. Both the current and the new undermine Blink dominance and serve to support a more diverse, collaborative open Internet. All of these things are attainable in one browser, and I think that would satisfy most users.


Hard to please but influential.

Among that group are sysadmins, webmasters and people who get called by friend or family members for anything tech-related.

If they do things right, like they did when IE was dominant, these guys will definitely give back.


Loyal. Savvy. Influential. And a userbase that speaks out to get a better product; I'd prefer a loyal userbase that provides feedback about what they care about than a fickle one that doesn't.

I've used since v0.4.


As it should be. If you swallow every bone you are thrown you end up with bullshit like chrome's adblocker crippling served with a fake performance concern sauce.


I have been using Firefox on Android since 2013. It's been constantly improving. I am so glad that it exists so that I am not forced to use a browser (Chrome) that doesn't respect me or my privacy and has every incentive to fuck me over.


I used it in 2013 and found it constantly degrading with each update. They removed a major feature to reflow text to fit your screen nicely, worsened the UI, and other things I don't remember anymore. After using an old version for a while, I tried another browser, and holy crap that was 10 times faster as well as being customizable the way I was used to from Firefox desktop. Not open source, not as featureful (no add-ons), but that was so much better. Since then I switched to Lightning: even fewer features, but open source, very lightweight, and great UX.

Whenever I raised issues with Mozilla about things that degraded, it was always either talking to a brick wall or a wontfix. They made the decision based on one person complaining about it being the old way, implemented the change, and no matter that other people liked the old way, it wouldn't be changed back or made configurable.

I then tried to compile Firefox for Android myself and cherry pick only security updates, but that was enough of a pain in the ass that I gave up on it.


Interesting point about reflowing text: Why don't browsers reflow text on mobile when zooming the same way they do on the desktop? This is a mayor annoyance for me since, well, forever. As a visually impaired user, forcing me to swipe text left to right the whole time after I zoomed to a comfortable font size makes reading on smaller screens really bad.

And before you mention it, changing default font size in browser/OS doesn't really help, mostly makes things worse (Bad categories like "medium", "huge" instead of font size, page layouts breaking etc.)


Im using this add on on Firefox for Android: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/text-reflow-w.... Maybe it can help you. Be aware it's not perfect: >This add-on is my attempt to provide the "reflow" option for text in Firefox Android. Warning: It is very limited. It will only reflow one paragraph at a time. You will have to tap/click on every single paragraph that you want to reflow.


The current version of firefox for android works very well and doesn't feel noticeably different from chrome on a several year old phone.

The newest version mentioned in this article actually feels faster than chrome although I'm not crazy about the new ui it is usable without difficultly and a work in progress.


Have you tried other browsers? I must say that the effect has gotten smaller since I got my second Android phone about a year ago (yes, the first lasted 2013-2018), I think because the webview component itself just got more bulky, but it's still very noticeable how slow Fennec is (Firefox from F-Droid) compared to a bare webview browser.


Have you tried a new version of android Firefox recently?

Experiences from years ago aren't really relevant any more, as Firefox has gotten a lot of work done the last couple of years.


I still have Fennec (Firefox from F-Droid) installed, I didn't notice any major changes since I stopped using it. I use it when there is some web application that expects a modern browser and the webview can't handle it.

But then, I also didn't think 57 for desktop was a big update. For me, it made zero speed difference (Firefox has always been fast on my laptop), on Linux with vertical tabs there is almost zero UI difference, and the only new thing was having to throw out all add-ons with the bathwater. Somehow, it seems I always experience things differently from other people.


The one speed difference I noticed was during startup with 300+ tabs, otherwise my experience was the same as yours.


Watch carefully: Noone will actually commit to extension support in the new firefox for android. They're going to roll their own adblocker, probably with the same inferior capabilities as manifest v3, to try to assuage all the people who use uBlock, while leaving everyone else to rot.

Will it be continually "improving" when they drop extension support?


Does not support any addons, and is therefore useless until it does.

(uBlock Origin is a prerequisite for me.)


It's a preview release. Addons are coming as well as ad blocking.

It's not the same thing, but the built-in tracking protection incidentally blocks a portion of ads.


I would love to know whether Mozilla has resources available to port Firefox to SailfishOS (SFOS) and other non-iOS & non-Android mobile platforms. We could really use a good native browser here. I'm currently running it through SFOS' Android emulation but that has issues.

Lacking a port I would be interested in a solid, maintained Firefox-without-the-GUI base so people could port it somewhat easily.


That's good to hear. Can you point to where Mozilla says they will support addons and ad blocking in Fenix?


This seems to be the relevant issue on GitHub: https://github.com/mozilla-mobile/fenix/issues/574

There's not much solid or explicit info in it, but it does seem to be planned eventually.


Per Barbara Bermes, senior product manager in firefox mobile, addons are not part of the minimum viable product. They're in the "backlog"


Right, but existing Firefox for Android users aren't going to be switched over to Fenix until it does.


Not to be mean, but that statement demonstrates a frankly shocking level of cluelessness. Extensions (mainly adblockers) are the critical feature that distinguishes FF mobile, and are the only reason I have ever been able to convince anyone to switch. I would almost consider adblockers functionality more critical than Javascript support, they should certainly be part of a minimum viable product. I know it's a preview version, but why would anyone in their right mind run this?


Possibly someone in their right mind would run it because they read TFA where it says "primarily aimed at developers and early adopters who want to help us improve Firefox on Android".


I would say that adblock/extension support is a pretty big deal breaker for "developers and early adopters". How are you going to get them to use a crippled browser for any significant period of time?


You're not supposed to use it for an extended period of time, that's why it has "preview" in its name.

I'll be happy to use their other browsers (mainly, Firefox Focus, my default browser) until this one gets more polished, but the moment this one becomes a bit more stable and adds a few more features (adblock support is certainly on top of that list) will be the moment when I not just switch over, but delete every other browser I have installed on my phone. I can't believe a browser (any browser) makes me feel excited in 2019, but this one does.


This is a great thing to hear!


Indeed, it's very disappointing to see such a long article without any mention of their plans for addons.

It isn't even clear that they're not going to replace Android Firefox with Fenix before getting extensions working.

As far I know this issue is the most recent source of information: https://github.com/mozilla-mobile/fenix/issues/574

It says «We are currently finalizing the transition plan».


It's not comprehensive, but I prefer the strategy of publicly releasing the information as they have it available, even if it means it often raises more questions.

Even if they don't have the entire transition planned out, I think it was important for Mozilla to communicate their Android dev focus was gonna shift to GeckoView, from existing apps, to allow external devs, and customers to have a better plan, even if they don't have the add on strategy and timeline fully fleshed out.

The alternative is waiting a few months to know any of this was happening.


> I think it was important for Mozilla to communicate their Android dev focus was gonna shift to GeckoView, from existing apps

Focus has already shifted for quite some time, though - the current Firefox for Android ("Fennec") code base has already been in maintenance mode since the end of 2017, i.e. over 1½ years, including a few months at the start of 2018 were almost nobody was regularly working on it at all other than watching Bugzilla for any immediate priority bugs and reacting to those in case any happened.


They said they were "currently" finalising their transition plans in February, so I think it's reasonable to assume that the plans have been finalised by now.


Same here. I do not know why the heck Mozilla is tiptoeing from just hiring Raymond and making uBlock an integral part of firefox.

Note that they already included something similar, which is SafeBrowsing(TM), that is maintained by google. Technically, it is exactly the same concept. But uBlock is actively request by 99% of their users, while safeBrowser(TM) fingerprinting is mostly disabled by half.


I think the better comparison than SafeBrowsing for uBlock would be Firefox's Enhanced Tracking Protection, which is on by default. This uses data maintained by Disconnect.

(Disclaimer: I work for Mozilla)


Not really. Advanced users can selectively disable Javascript/frames/media etc on a per-site basis. Also the user has the control to allow trackers on site they care about and know the consequences.

I am sorry but tracking protection on mozilla as it is now (only enabled by default on private windows, and hapening with no user knowledge/information/learning oportunities) is a lame clutch.


It's actually on by default now as of this month.


uBlock Origin and uMatrix in particular are fantastic addons, but I think the UX is still too much for the average casual non-technical user.

I wish they'd focus more on getting the UX of containers up to snuff. They are almost there, but still far enough away to make addons like Multi-Account Containers (MAC) something I cannot recommend to my parents.

Here is what I mean: Suppose I want to keep my use of example.com separate in it's own Example container. How do I do that?

1) Click the MAC icon in the toolbar, then click the "+" button.

2) Enter 'Example', pick an icon or color, then click okay.

3) Open a new Example container.

4) Navigate to example.com in the Example container

5) Click the MAC icon in the toolbar, then check "Always open in Example"

6) Close the tab.

7) Open a new tab, and browse to example.com

8) Click "Remember my decision"

9) Click "Open in Example container"

This is nuts. I can't recommend this workflow to anybody.


I'm pretty sure the main reason is that all websites with block them and tell you to install Chrome if they ever did.

Outside of that I'm sure turning ad blocking on by default would break several sites.

Also publicly, they've said that ads are an integral part of the web.


Fine. ship it off. This is not a valid excuse.

What's the difference of shipping a feature off, and shipping with support for an extension (on both firefox and Google's chrome store sites!) that can be installed? At this point we are just discussing semantics. Install vs Turn on.


plugins are better (I use uMatrix).


uBlock origin is turning into uMatrix, even on mobile (fenec) Firefox. Sneakily ;)


Pure speculation, I wonder if their contract with Google forbids them from having ad blocking as part of the browser. At least if I was a company paying another company millions of dollars I wouldn't let them block my income stream in their product.


They already have an adblocker built in (well a tracking blocker but that often amounts to the same thing).


Mozilla also didn't have ad blocking when their contract was with Yahoo.


Exactly.

Anyone remember when Firefox extensions broke recently? I thought it was a rather horrible experience.

If the new Firefox Preview can natively block advertisements, whitelist sites, disable third party cookies, prevent and hide social trackers, block anti-ad-blockers, etc. etc. then I agree that extensions are kind of useless, and I understand Mozilla's point.

However, I see the lack of extension support detrimental to my freedoms as a user, since it means I no longer can control what the software hides for me, nor what it broadcasts about me to the abyss of waste that is the advertising industry; I will have to trust the browser, and the lack of extension support is a rather untrustworthy property to begin with.


This is still a preview, it's nowhere near a finished product. Extensions come after MVP https://github.com/mozilla-mobile/fenix/issues/662#issuecomm...


There is no minimum viable product here. The MVP was the first usable mobile Firefox. A version of Firefox without extension support is just broken.


(minimum viable product)

Isn't it strange that the big flash announcement comes before MVP?


This release is what they termed MVP. Everything after it is post-MVP. It means minimum viable product. In my personal opinion, a lot more functionality was included than what most would call an MVP.


The big flash announcement is to get early adopters for testing. There's no reason to delay testing until the MVP is ready, as long as testers remain aware that Firefox Preview is a preview that shouldn't be expected to already have all features implemented.


It's just that, for me and a bunch of other people, we would be happy to test a preview if we could compare it against our current browsers. We can't, because

advertising is an abomination that destroys the utility of the internet

and so there's no fair comparison.


Yes, that's what "viable" means. Viable for big flashy announcement.


>"The user experience of this early version will differ significantly from the final product, planned for release later this year."


I really feel like this should be the top comment; losing addon support in FF on Android is about the only change I can envision that would cause me to stop using it. It's great as it is, and there is no amount of tinkering they could do to it that might possibly make up for the loss of addons.


Same here. I was so happy to see this and I just went ahead and installed it in a heart-beat. Tried to find the addons page, couldn't find it, found your comment instead and uninstalled it in the next.

I hope they add support for addons otherwise there isn't much use for it at least to me.


uBO is the main reason I use Firefox on Android, as well.

With that said, what sites are you visiting? It could be that I simply don't visit sites with any ads, but I gave a few of my daily sites a spin in Firefox Preview and didn't notice any ads.


I really don't understand why Mozilla doesn't put ad-blocking & tracking protection front & center the way other orgs do.

Winning their userbase back is the only way to win back the leverage they once had...


Out of curiosity, what orgs are you comparing us to?

When you install Firefox Preview, tracking protection is enabled by default. This is recently true for Firefox Desktop as well.

https://blog.mozilla.org/blog/2019/06/04/when-it-comes-to-pr...

This post below by our CEO explains how we're thinking about the issue broadly. Your privacy and agency are definitely front and center.

https://blog.mozilla.org/blog/2019/06/04/the-web-the-world-n...

(Disclaimer: I work for Mozilla)



Agreed. I hastily installed FF Preview and then immediately uninstalled it when I couldn't find where to install uBlock. They shouldn't have launched, or made an announcement, without some form of adblocking (native or plugin).

I understand that it's a testing release, but they stand to lose out on many testers and users. While I am perfectly willing to be a guinea pig and use this as my daily driver, I am passionately unwilling to browse with ads (especially on a mobile device where data is more expensive).

I am likely part of the vast majority of potential testers/users. There probably won't be a "hey, we support plugins/blocking now" announcement and, even if there will be, it probably won't be as visible as this announcement.


Did you actually try it on a website with lots of ads? I've been using focus for the last 6 months or so and the tracker blocking also blocks many ads for me. Also there is blockada which blocks ads system wide.


> the tracker blocking also blocks many ads

It doesn't block ads. It blocks trackers that sometimes happen to be ads too. But when it comes to ad blocking, it's no better than Chrome.


Oy. Isn't the extension support likely the #1 reason anyone uses it?


Haven't used android in a couple of years but firefox used to support addons (and it looks like it still does).


GeckoView doesn't support addons yet. This is pending discussion, but it looks like the goal is to focus on mobile optimization first.

As a tester of Firefox Preview: WebRender has been a godsend for mobile browsing -- I have yet to see it choke!


Firefox was kinda slow sometimes with too much JS on the page on my old phone but still overall usable, and that was a J3 (replaced just last week), so I'd say that's pretty good. Great and lag-free on my s10+ so far. Not convinced optimization should be a priority over features and addons.


WebRender doesn't work for me, "Unsupported Vendor" :(

Moto G4, Qualcomm Adreno 405, OpenGL ES 3.2

about:config doesn't work either


I would also appreciate if they worked on restoring the original addon capability they had up to 2016 (where you add keyboard shortcuts) before they go showboating.


You can learn more about Geckoview, the reusable heart of Firefox Preview, at https://hacks.mozilla.org/2019/06/geckoview-in-2019/

(Disclosure: I work for Mozilla)


If there is one thing I miss from current mobile Firefox, it's text reflow. Opera mobile did it perfectly.

I want to be able to zoom in or out and have text reflowed to the screen width. This makes the web magnitudes nicer to use on a small screen. No cut off lines, no 10 lines per screen. Just convenient freedom over the primary tool we interact on the web: Text.



Nope, does not work on HN. But thank you!



Just yesterday I thought it is really annoying that mobile browsers put the address bar on top, even worse if it is moving in and out. That way it is impossible come close to a native look and feel. Now FF puts the address bar on bottom. Quite a suprise but I think it is a pretty smart change.


Exactly. I wanted to use Firefox on mobile but Brave is so much more convenient since it puts the bar at the bottom. Reaching my hand up becomes annoying since I might have to use two hands to not drop my phone.

Another thing that annoyed me about the previous mobile Firefox was the 'x' in the URL bar closed the bar instead of clearing it like Brave. I had to unlearn months of muscle memory since it was a habit of mine. Maybe it doesn't matter since it's just an issue after switching.


I love the address bar at the bottom. It feels so much better on a mobile device. As a whole, this version is much nicer to use than the previous versions.

My two main gripes are the default search engine and telemetry. Both of these options should be set by the user on first launch. I don't want to use Google and I don't want to send data to Mozilla.


I can't understand how UX designers come up with the idea that putting stuff on the top of the screen* is a good thing, and even keep reiterating through that. That's an honest question, anybody knows what's the motivation behind that?

* or, places that are hard to reach for most users


Legacy design and use patterns. The top of the screen used to make more sense than today.

Mobile-first design really hasn't taken hold for many UX web designers (and/or the organizations haven't adapted). Relatively speaking, large phones where it's difficult to reach the top weren't popular until recently. Even mobile apps are just starting to put navigation towards the bottom.


In addition to familiarity as others have mentioned: when you scroll a site, it feels natural to "scroll away" the UI on the top. If you have UI on the bottom, and you want to hide it when scrolling, that doesn't feel as natural.


1) It's entirely rational on a desktop to have the URL at the top.

2) same browser gets put on a mobile phone, wants to "feel natural"

3) url bar goes in the "familiar" place.


They are thinking like letterhead.


It's an unbelievably untapped aspect for differentiating browsers. However, instead of the address bar what would be the best experience would be to have navigation buttons on the bottom. Speed dials, back and forward, tab management should be front and center and at the bottom, since that's actually what you're using the most when browsing on mobile.


But then when you go to enter a URL it jumps to the top. That was annoying as I was pasting in all the URLs from my other browser.


> That way it is impossible come close to a native look and feel.

What "native look and feel" are you talking about?


Well Edge on Windows Phone / Windows 10 Mobile also puts address bar on the bottom.


Don't bother sending feedback to the email address mentioned in the blog: it bounces.

  We're writing to let you know
  that the group you tried to 
  contact (firefox-preview-feedback)
  may not exist, or you may not
  have permission to post
  messages to the group...


This has been fixed.


Small tip: please avoid giving time estimations using seasons "coming this fall", as in the other hemisphere it is going to be spring.


I'm a happy user of both Firefox Focus and Firefox mobile, I don't know what could they improve but I'll give it a look.

About Firefox focus, I love to have it as default browser when opening links, it gives me a lot of confidence to know that the session will be completely destroyed afterward. I'd miss it if it were to be discontinued.


A neat little thing I've discovered after installing the Preview is that Focus is still here.

You can toggle between the modes in one tap, and if you're in a private mode, opening links from other apps behaves just like Focus (minus the convenient "erase everything" button, at least for now).

It's the best of both worlds, I don't have to use a second one for those rare scenarios in which I want cookies (like remaining logged into HN).


Same usage here, and happy with it. Using both Firefox Focus and Firefox Android, Firefox Focus being the default browser


One reason I like FF on Android better than Chrome:

The Chrome user agent has your device model, even in incognito mode.

If you have a relatively rare Android device in your market, I think you can be tracked fairly uniquely on that alone. I was creeped out when I discovered this.


> The Chrome user agent has your device model, even in incognito mode.

For example, on my phone, Firefox's current User-Agent header is:

  Mozilla/5.0 (Android 8.1.0; Tablet; rv:67.0) Gecko/67.0 Firefox/67.0
while Chrome's is:

  Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; Android 8.1.0; Moto G (5) Plus) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/740.3729.136 Mobile Safari/537.36


I would say it gets worse than this though. "Moto G (5) Plus" is probably pretty common. As are Pixels and many Samsung offerings. But since android has such a broad spectrum of devices, if you happened to get one that's more rare, you are sort of advertising that all over the web, and you will be one of a small number of people doing it.


Wow, this preview is incredibly good! I was not expecting such a good quality from a preview app (given how bad some of the other tries from Firefox have been on Android).

And you know what absolutely clinches it for me? That you moved the address bar to the bottom!! Just like Edge on Windows mobile - that's the best position for address bar IMO.

I also hope you do something about better battery management on the android app.

Have a bow!


Agree about the address bar positioning, last time I used a browser that had this feature was dolphin browser, at least 5 years ago.


Main thing I don't like about Firefox for Android is the lack of support for containers. I want to use sites like Facebook within a container.


I love containers, but the lack of ability to sync them really annoys me. Every time I get a new computer (or re-install, or setup a VPN to test with, etc) I have to manually create all my rules to always open my bank stuff in a special container, and always open my work sites in their container, etc. It seems like these rules should just sync.


Totally agree. I've also had it just completely forget all my "always open in container" settings in the past. But that hasn't occurred recently, so hopefully those days are over.



Me too - there doesn't even seem to be a way to generate a file that you could open on another computer? Having them sync via Firefox would be really good - even more so on mobile.


Me too. It is classic Mozilla. They have such big blind spots. Even after the certificate debacle, which wiped containers for some people, they still appear to have no plans to sync them.


Not fond of the bottom address bar, I guess I'm not used to it because I always tap the top-right corner to switch tabs... I just need to get it in my muscle-memory, not a big deal. I still cross my fingers this will be configurable at some point.

My main gripe is that I feel like bookmarks are now a second-class citizen in Firefox Preview, they're not as accessible. I could see my mobile bookmarks right on the new tab screen in Firefox, now I have to press ⋮ > Your Library > Bookmarks and then click the bookmark I want.

4 clicks, while it took only one (or two) before with bookmarks as the default panel on my homepage on Firefox "classic".


Bookmarks have become even more first-class now - just swipe up from your address bar anytime. Try it now ( in the Firefox preview).

Also, I feel the opposite regarding the address bar position - give it a few days, you'll absolutely love it. Edge on Windows Mobile had the same position, and it was a very nifty and time-saving UX. You can now use the phone one-handed more easily, even for small-handed people.


> Bookmarks have become even more first-class now - just swipe up from your address bar anytime. Try it now ( in the Firefox preview).

Swiping up seems to only give me the option to share and/or bookmark the page, and in Fennec those things were already possible through the main menu, so not much of an improvement (though I suppose swiping might be a little easier than precisely hitting the menu button).

Actually viewing my bookmarks has indeed become more cumbersome, though, and that is what your parent comment is referring to: In Fennec bookmarks were accessible through the about:home UI, which appears both when opening a new tab and when tapping the URL bar to enter URL edit mode, both of which feel quicker than "Open main menu -> Open library -> Open bookmarks" in Fenix.


Any UI element that you can't find by searching is not first class. In particular, if there's some gesture you have to randomly guess exists, it's a hidden feature for advanced users only.


I'd actually downvote my own comment right now.

There's a thumb that indicates dragability. They're about as hidden as a feature in a menu - that's not great, but it's a lot better than I understood before. (The preview took several hours to download and install on my phone. It's big, but it's not that big that it should've taken that long.)


Can I get to my bookmarks that way? Seems to only allow me to make them.


Funnily enough, top-address-bar has been one of my two biggest UX gripes about Android FF. Especially since iOS FF has the bottom adddress bar (which seems like a UI decision independent of their reliance on Safari's engine), and is so much nicer to use.

With you on the bookmarks though. Especially since they're putting this new "Collections" feature front-and-centre but it seems to have no integration with Your Library. The whole "Tab Groups", etc. paradigm has been tried time and time again: the reason it never sticks isn't because it's a bad idea, it's because it's never integrated with idiomatic browser features.


Mobile Chrome is moving to address bar on top, buttons / tab switcher on the bottom.


This has been the case on the dev release for months but they've yet to merge it to stable.

Sure it's disturbing at first but from a usability standpoint it seems vastly superior, especially for bigger screens.


I'm a huge fan of the navigation bar on the bottom. I've missed it since I had to give up Windows Phone. It's hard to believe that neither Apple or Google ever added the option. I can't think of a single reason it would be better on top, It's simply harder to reach and less usable.

This also goes for all other apps...


Brave on Android has had bottom-bar for quite a while, it was the reason I switched from Firefox. I would switch back, but as there is no add-on support...


Its such a nice change, I cant believe I haven't come across this yet. From what little I have used of the app it feels really nice and slick.


Exactly I also find the same, opera touch does it so well, but then it's opera and privacy things and also want to support firefox.


Some feedback: If you are going to market your browser as privacy focused, it has to block ads by default. As far as I can this one does not block ads at all. Good initial experience but please block ads.


>If you are going to market your browser as privacy focused, it has to block ads by default

A privacy-focused browser should care about the privacy part of the online advertisement, which is tracking. Completely preventing the site from showing any ads is a different feature.


Considering that advertisements are a common vector for installing spyware and malware, I think adblocking and antitracking are two sides of the same coin.


No, these are not the same and oughtn't be conflated. I'm perfectly happy seeing ads that aren't targeted to me personally based on my browsing history.

Ads on, say, Stack Overflow or HN or whatever, that target nerds ("great hosting!", "3d printing tech!", "legos!") would be perfectly doable without tracking each of us personally.


It's interesting to think about how these sorts of niche sites which have a narrow enough demographic to have valuable ad space are more or less being entirely eaten alive by networks with incredibly wide demographics. The centralized networks have to resort to building a panopticon to replicate segmenting which used to be natural at the network layer and the niche sites have to resort to playing along because of how powerful that panopticon is.


it already blocks trackers by default


This is at least partially covered by tracking protection, which is on by default.


I've been using it and it has been actually pretty good. It already has Firefox Sync and ability to send tabs to different devices. Only thing I miss is the ability to open tabs in background. This was my favorite feature in the previous Firefox for Android.


> Only thing I miss is the ability to open tabs in background.

Long press the link.


I meant send links from any app to firefox and switch to firefox at a later time to find them ready to be read.


I didn't know about that feature. Feel free to request it on GitHub.


In Fennec that feature is referred to as “Tab Queues.”


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