In the desktop world Firefox was the web browser that changed the world… okay, changed the World Wide Web. It popularized standards, speed, plugins, and made Microsoft stand up and take notice.
Google’s Chrome (which is based on the Webkit engine) quickly became the new browser of choice for the people who actually build the web, pushing the web forward, and making Firefox play catch-up. Chrome is the default browser that comes with Android-powered phones. On the Apple side of the street there is Safari (also based on the Webkit engine).
Thus far, Firefox (based on Mozilla) has been left out of the mobile arena, but that may be coming to an end with the forthcoming release of Fennec, also known as “Firefox Mobile”.
We’ve talked about Fennec before, but it’s starting to look more exciting.
“Now things are starting to stabilize (…) we are gearing up for the first Fennec 2.0 alpha release in just a few weeks,” Mozilla’s Matt Brubeck noted in a recent blog post.
Users of Nokia’s Maemo OS have been using Fennec for a while now, but us Android folk have only seen a few alphas. “Fennec 1.0 and 1.1 were for available only for Nokia’s Maemo operating system. Fennec 2 will run on the Google Android platform, as well as Maemo and its successor MeeGo,” Brubeck stated.
In addition to Electrolysis, Fennec 2 promises Firefox Sync (to sync tabs, bookmarks, and history from your desktop computer); a new “Find In Page” utility; the ability to share links through Twitter, Facebook, Google Reader, and email; a feature to let you send links using Android or Maemo apps (such as Bump, and other installed apps); address book support to assist form completion using contact data; and multi-touch gestures such as pinch-to-zoom, with later releases including multi-touch swipe gestures to go to the top or bottom of the current page, or navigate between pages.
Mozilla previously told us that a beta version of Fennec for Android would be available before the end of 2010. This forthcoming alpha would seem to indicate the company is trying to meet that promise.
If you’re adventurous you can give one of the nightly builds a try, just don’t get too frustrated when things don’t work right — or don’t work at all.
Links to Nightly Builds: