By Harry McCracken | Wednesday, April 28, 2010 at 1:27 am
Are you a browser junkie with a phone running Android 2.0 or above? Mozilla has released a “pre-alpha” Android version of Fennec, the mobile version of Firefox.
When they say it’s pre-alpha, they’re not being self-effacing–it’s pretty rough. On my Droid, at least, I couldn’t even get the on-screen keyboard to pop up. But it’s in decent enough shape to whet the appetite. And it’ll be great if the browser race on Android is anywhere near as exuberantly competitive as it is on Windows and OS X. (I’m already a part-time user of Opera Mini for Android.)
Fennec has an interesting user interface that involves swiping from side to side to access functionality. For instance, you tug the screen to the right to get access to tabs, and tug it to the left to see a toolbar of icons for bookmarks, settings, and other options. It’s pretty effective–but it’s also unlike any other Android app I’ve used to date.
If this were an iPhone program–and I hope Fennec lands on iPhone OS someday–I think Mozilla would be roundly criticized for ignoring the interface standards of the platform the browser is running on. Android, however, is far more shaky when it comes to consistency across apps. Me, I vote for the final incarnation of Android Fennec having a more Android-y look, to the degree there is such a thing. (It almost has to get more Androidesque: This version doesn’t even support the menu button.)
If you give Fennec a try, let us know what you think.