40 votes

Reinventing Firefox for Android: a Preview

40 comments

  1. [8]
    TheJorro
    Link
    Version 1.0.0 has finally released and is available on the Play Store.

    Version 1.0.0 has finally released and is available on the Play Store.

    10 votes
    1. [7]
      user2
      Link Parent
      Why is it not available on f-droid?

      Why is it not available on f-droid?

      1 vote
      1. PopeRigby
        Link Parent
        They're working on it. You can follow this issue for updates.

        They're working on it. You can follow this issue for updates.

        4 votes
      2. [5]
        Diff
        Link Parent
        Probably because the Fdroid people haven't got around to it or don't feel like it would be my guess

        Probably because the Fdroid people haven't got around to it or don't feel like it would be my guess

        2 votes
        1. [4]
          Keegan
          Link Parent
          The app might not be allowed on F-Droid. It is likely that the app contains something that makes in non-FLOSS, like the regular Firefox is. You can note how Firefox is absent from F-Droid, while...

          The app might not be allowed on F-Droid.

          It is likely that the app contains something that makes in non-FLOSS, like the regular Firefox is. You can note how Firefox is absent from F-Droid, while Icecat, a version of Firefox that removes the proprietary parts and replaces it with free software, is in F-Droid.

          The telemetry in the app could also cause an issue, as I'm not sure if it is a kind that is allowed there.

          See the F-Droid Inclusion Policy for more info about this.

          CC: @user2

          9 votes
          1. [2]
            mat
            Link Parent
            Aren't the only non-free parts of Firefox the icons/buttons/other branding? I'm sure it's something like that.

            Aren't the only non-free parts of Firefox the icons/buttons/other branding? I'm sure it's something like that.

            7 votes
            1. Keegan
              Link Parent
              That would contribute, yes, yet there are some other things that are either conducive to or are non-free software. For example the Widevine DRM add-on, which is non-free, is enabled by default....

              That would contribute, yes, yet there are some other things that are either conducive to or are non-free software. For example the Widevine DRM add-on, which is non-free, is enabled by default.

              The FSF page for IceCat also says that "The proprietary program Mibbit has been removed." It is unclear if that program also exists in mobile versions of Firefox.

              The main problem is default settings in regards to add-ons and privacy, having opt-out telemetry instead of opt-in. Allowing JavaScript to run is also an issue, although it wouldn't cause the app to be rejected from F-Droid, but would cause a warning on the F-Droid page. Enabling Javascript to run by default is conducive to non-free software.

              1 vote
          2. Diff
            Link Parent
            Fennec is still in the F-Droid repos, is that not vanilla Firefox without the nonfree bits?

            Fennec is still in the F-Droid repos, is that not vanilla Firefox without the nonfree bits?

            1 vote
  2. Rocket_Man
    Link
    I just tried it out, it's certainly faster which is nice. I've got some usability issues which I've given as feedback. But this seems like a good start.

    I just tried it out, it's certainly faster which is nice. I've got some usability issues which I've given as feedback. But this seems like a good start.

    8 votes
  3. Deimos
    Link
    They posted some more info about GeckoView (Firefox's renderer as an Android library) on the Mozilla Hacks blog today as well: GeckoView in 2019

    They posted some more info about GeckoView (Firefox's renderer as an Android library) on the Mozilla Hacks blog today as well: GeckoView in 2019

    7 votes
  4. [17]
    vaddi
    Link
    I've been using icecat from f-droid and browsing tildes in this new firefox feels really snappy. I'm curious about their "collections" thing. At first I thought that it was just a fancy name for...

    I've been using icecat from f-droid and browsing tildes in this new firefox feels really snappy.
    I'm curious about their "collections" thing. At first I thought that it was just a fancy name for bookmarks folders, but then I realized that they still have the usual bookmarks. I wonder what's their objective here.

    4 votes
    1. [16]
      Diff
      Link Parent
      I kinda see what they're doing. Collections of tabs about a specific task that I don't want to lose and still want at hand really end up clogging my phone's browser. And my desktop's browser. And...

      I kinda see what they're doing. Collections of tabs about a specific task that I don't want to lose and still want at hand really end up clogging my phone's browser. And my desktop's browser. And something I spend a decent amount of time doing is opening up the same set of tabs to check them all. Collections help with both use cases.

      3 votes
      1. [3]
        vaddi
        Link Parent
        Yeah I understand that, but the usual bookmark feels irrelevant here. Why wouldn't they remove it? This is just from a UI UX point of view, because at its core both collections and bookmarks work...

        Yeah I understand that, but the usual bookmark feels irrelevant here. Why wouldn't they remove it? This is just from a UI UX point of view, because at its core both collections and bookmarks work the same way. However one is a lot easier to find than the other.

        1 vote
        1. [2]
          unknown user
          Link Parent
          Why would it need to be removed? People use it. I have more than 6k if them. And they serve way more stuff than just easy access: archival, bookmarklets, search keywords, organisation. I really...

          Why would it need to be removed? People use it. I have more than 6k if them. And they serve way more stuff than just easy access: archival, bookmarklets, search keywords, organisation.

          I really dislike this tendency to remove features that cost nothing just because someone thinks it is redundant. That you don't have a use for them does not mean others don't, and this sort of backwards incompatible changes screw the user up bad. Don't need them, fine, don't use them.

          5 votes
          1. vaddi
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            Sorry, maybe I was not able to express myself correctly. I was not saying that Bookmarks shouldn't exist because the app offers Collections. What I meant is that Collections at its core are...

            Sorry, maybe I was not able to express myself correctly. I was not saying that Bookmarks shouldn't exist because the app offers Collections. What I meant is that Collections at its core are Bookmarks (folders). So, from an UI point of view, the user now has two ways of accomplishing the same thing. You have Bookmarks organized into folders, and you have a "general" folder called Bookmarks. But this "general" folder is much harder to reach (3 clicks vs scroll + 1 click), and that for me is bad design.

            EDIT: punctuation.

            2 votes
      2. hook
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        Same. It seems like they are trying to do in part what OneTab plugin does. If that is the case, I need this on my desktop Firefox as well! Although it does not seem to act like OneTab in the sense...

        Same. It seems like they are trying to do in part what OneTab plugin does. If that is the case, I need this on my desktop Firefox as well!

        Although it does not seem to act like OneTab in the sense of collecting several tabs at the same time. Unfortunately..

        1 vote
      3. [11]
        mat
        Link Parent
        I've seen this feature before, I'm sure it was in early UX design sketches for Gnome Shell or maybe it was some other experimental DE. You could group a bunch of apps and a layout (eg: IDE on...

        I've seen this feature before, I'm sure it was in early UX design sketches for Gnome Shell or maybe it was some other experimental DE. You could group a bunch of apps and a layout (eg: IDE on desktop one, browser on two, sftp and terminal on three, mail client on four) into a "Collection" and then just launch that when you wanted to do the thing you needed that particular setup for. It's a nice idea for the desktop but I'm not entirely sure how it adds anything that bookmark folders don't already do.

        1 vote
        1. [10]
          hook
          Link Parent
          KDE Plasma does something similar (and more) with its Activities, yeah. A feature I heavily rely on.

          KDE Plasma does something similar (and more) with its Activities, yeah. A feature I heavily rely on.

          1. [2]
            mat
            Link Parent
            I don't think it ever made it into Gnome in the end, which is a shame. Might be coming at some point I suppose. It's not like I need more than a browser and a terminal these days anyway (btw...

            I don't think it ever made it into Gnome in the end, which is a shame. Might be coming at some point I suppose. It's not like I need more than a browser and a terminal these days anyway (btw everyone on linux should check out Tilda for a pull-down Quake Console style always running terminal app)

            1 vote
            1. hook
              Link Parent
              Yakuake is another good one of such kind.

              Yakuake is another good one of such kind.

          2. [7]
            unknown user
            Link Parent
            I have to this day failed to understand what activities really do. Is there a write up or demo that you (or anyone else) know of that can teach me about them?

            I have to this day failed to understand what activities really do. Is there a write up or demo that you (or anyone else) know of that can teach me about them?

            1 vote
            1. [6]
              hook
              Link Parent
              This blog post seems to summarise it fairly well: http://takingnothingforgranted.com/introduction-kde-virtual-desktops-activities/ One huge advantage for me is that you can stop individual...

              This blog post seems to summarise it fairly well: http://takingnothingforgranted.com/introduction-kde-virtual-desktops-activities/

              One huge advantage for me is that you can stop individual Activities and with that clean up your resources. Then you can start them again and should pick up where you left it.

              Happy to answer more later, I'm on mobile right now.

              3 votes
              1. [5]
                unknown user
                Link Parent
                That was useful, thanks! So I imagine I could have one default activity with Emacs and Firefox, then another one with Zotero, Emacs and a PDF viewer for reading stuff, etc., and selecting one...

                That was useful, thanks!

                So I imagine I could have one default activity with Emacs and Firefox, then another one with Zotero, Emacs and a PDF viewer for reading stuff, etc., and selecting one would start up the apps if needed and maybe save the particular window layout? That could be useful to me I imagine, I will give it a try.

                2 votes
                1. [4]
                  hook
                  Link Parent
                  Yup. What I also sometimes do is to open activities for different projects. So e.g. I have Project A activity where I have a terminal, Kate with a session dedicated to that project, a file widget...

                  Yup. What I also sometimes do is to open activities for different projects. So e.g. I have Project A activity where I have a terminal, Kate with a session dedicated to that project, a file widget on the desktop with the folder open that is relevant, several PDFs open that I need etc. And when I suspend that activity and re-start it later, I know things are exactly where I left them.

                  Also super useful as a dedicated presentation activity to have special power settings for it (or video, gamning etc.)

                  2 votes
                  1. [3]
                    unknown user
                    Link Parent
                    Sounds cool! If I don't overwhelm you with questions, could I ask one last one? How do you reproduce your setup, and do you somehow version control it? To this day I haven't been able to nicely...

                    Sounds cool! If I don't overwhelm you with questions, could I ask one last one? How do you reproduce your setup, and do you somehow version control it? To this day I haven't been able to nicely reproduce my setup with any DE, be it KDE, Gnome or XFCE, which is one of the main reasons I stick to i3wm (the other being that everything else is moving to Wayland and I don't want to deal with it just yet). Every time I reinstall the OS, with most of $XDG_CONFIG_HOME intact, the setup is at least slightly different. With my own config, once reinstallation process finishes, I just can continue from where I left, everything is totally the same. A big problem with KDE for me is that *rc under ~/.config store both state and configuration, against what standards dictate, and thus I can't effectively version control them.

                    1 vote
                    1. [2]
                      hook
                      Link Parent
                      No problem, happy to spread the good word :) What I do is simply rely on my backups. I have Borg set up to daily backup my whole home directory, including all dot/config files, and just excluding...

                      No problem, happy to spread the good word :)

                      What I do is simply rely on my backups. I have Borg set up to daily backup my whole home directory, including all dot/config files, and just excluding temporary files, download folders etc. So if anything goes wrong, I just pull it from there.

                      I agree though that storing the state and configuration stored in the same folders or even files is a big annoyance with KDE that I have as well. AFAIK it’s being worked on, but it’s not an easy nut to crack, with all the legacy that needs to be taken into account.

                      But back to the question of how to store and restore Plasma settings, I hear people like the Plasma Configuration Saver widget a lot for that use. I haven’t taken it for a spin yet myself, but looks very promising.

                      Don’t forget that for just look and feel, KDE Plasma already includes a built-in feature (again) to load, save, and share whole theme packages, called Look and Feel. It’s the first thing you see if you open up System SettingsWorkspace Theme.

                      1 vote
                      1. unknown user
                        Link Parent
                        Thanks a lot! Lots of useful information in there!

                        Thanks a lot! Lots of useful information in there!

                        1 vote
  5. apoctr
    Link
    Very much a fan of the new UI in general (settings, homepage) but gotta say I'm still not a fan of the bottom url bar/"browser chrome". It's obviously still in development, but hopefully they...

    Very much a fan of the new UI in general (settings, homepage) but gotta say I'm still not a fan of the bottom url bar/"browser chrome". It's obviously still in development, but hopefully they don't just leave it unconfigurable.

    3 votes
  6. nichos
    Link
    Been using Firefox for Android for years now, so I'm looking forward to this. But, something has to be done about the address bar on the bottom. It's always present, even as I type this. It should...

    Been using Firefox for Android for years now, so I'm looking forward to this.
    But, something has to be done about the address bar on the bottom. It's always present, even as I type this. It should autohide or have an option to put it up top.

    2 votes
  7. Venko
    Link
    It's a huge improvement on the older version of Firefox and it finally supports Bitwarden's autofill accessibility service.

    It's a huge improvement on the older version of Firefox and it finally supports Bitwarden's autofill accessibility service.

    1 vote
  8. rmgr
    Link
    The UI is a bit weird but I don't hate it. I've been meaning to switch to Firefox from Brave now that I VPN my mobile traffic through my Pi-Hole at home so I guess this is a good time for it.

    The UI is a bit weird but I don't hate it. I've been meaning to switch to Firefox from Brave now that I VPN my mobile traffic through my Pi-Hole at home so I guess this is a good time for it.

    1 vote
  9. Akir
    Link
    I really appreciate how much smoother the experience is than current Firefox, but the UI feels worse. The URL bar is kind of in the way since it doesn't disappear, and the 'trey' seems to be...

    I really appreciate how much smoother the experience is than current Firefox, but the UI feels worse. The URL bar is kind of in the way since it doesn't disappear, and the 'trey' seems to be mostly useless. I keep swiping it up by accident and it only contains share and bookmark, which is and should be in the menu respectfully. Except when reader mode is available, but that doesn't make sense either - why hide that functionality on the device which I am most likely to use it on?

    I like just about everything else, except there is a glaring lack of extensions. Please don't make me browse the ad-infested web.

    1 vote
  10. [3]
    Keegan
    (edited )
    Link
    Since the link to their GitHub repository is hidden behind a bitly link that makes you sign in and fill out a bug report, here it is: (Oops. Missed where they linked it) Here is the link to source...

    Since the link to their GitHub repository is hidden behind a bitly link that makes you sign in and fill out a bug report, here it is: (Oops. Missed where they linked it)

    Here is the link to source code:
    https://github.com/mozilla-mobile/fenix.

    1 vote
    1. [2]
      Bauke
      Link Parent
      The 4th link in the blog links to their GitHub page: The one you're talking about is for submitting feedback:

      The 4th link in the blog links to their GitHub page:

      [...] The result is an early version of what we currently call Firefox Preview.

      The one you're talking about is for submitting feedback:

      [...] We’re counting on our passionate users to try it now and provide the kind of feedback (via email or on Github) [...]

      3 votes
      1. Keegan
        Link Parent
        Oh my bad. I was wondering why the only one I saw was for feedback.

        Oh my bad. I was wondering why the only one I saw was for feedback.

        1 vote
  11. userexec
    Link
    I tried it out and tracked some issues on it for a while. It's really nice. I wouldn't say it's quite usable as a daily driver yet, but it's close. On my Note 9 it had a few major issues like...

    I tried it out and tracked some issues on it for a while. It's really nice. I wouldn't say it's quite usable as a daily driver yet, but it's close. On my Note 9 it had a few major issues like consistently crashing when changing to a different open tab and then attempting to navigate to another page with the address bar, and LastPass wasn't working with it yet, but other than that it was a very slick experience. I look forward to its release.

  12. joelthelion
    Link
    Looking good so far! Still missing ad blocking and password management until I can start using it as my daily browser.

    Looking good so far! Still missing ad blocking and password management until I can start using it as my daily browser.

  13. [3]
    ainar-g
    (edited )
    Link
    Oh bother!

    (…) In order to have a strong foundation for the next generation of mobile Firefox browsers and put all our efforts and resources in GeckoView, work on Firefox Focus will currently be on hold. (…)

    Oh bother!

    1. [2]
      PopeRigby
      Link Parent
      Why do you say that?

      Why do you say that?

      1 vote
      1. ainar-g
        Link Parent
        Because I like Firefox Focus, and the news that the development is put on hold makes me sad.

        Because I like Firefox Focus, and the news that the development is put on hold makes me sad.

        3 votes