Firefox Mobile previewed

January 28, 2008 | 09:20

Tags: #browser #firefox #phone

Mozilla – the company behind open-source browser Firefox – has released a sneak-peak of the interface that will drive Firefox Mobile, the version of the popular browser designed for both classic and touch-screen phones.

In a post to the Mozilla Wiki, the team behind the design have put up some screenshots of how the software is currently shaping up along with some interesting discussion related to how to move from a desktop interface to a much more compact layout.

It's clear that the team are thinking hard about changes that will really improve how the system works on mobile phones, with discussions including the irritation iPhone users feel when trying to cancel a page load and finding that the 'Cancel' button has become a 'Reload' button just before they hit it and ways to keep the Firefox Mobile browsing experience familiar for users of Firefox 3 on the desktop.

Perhaps the most interesting inclusion in the mobile flavour of the browser is a four-tab system whereby up to four pages can be loaded at any one time, then shrunk into a split view where the user can pick which page to bring into focus.

Other features introduced in this preview include a URL-guessing feature where the main screen fills with entries from the bookmark and history lists as you type the URL, improved page zooming to make the smaller screen area more usable, and a maximised view that provides the most usable screen space possible.

The discussion on the Wiki between developers hints at more radical changes to come, including one suggestion that the full-screen view dispenses with a toolbar altogether and instead places an alpha-blended Firefox logo into the corner which would expand to reveal the toolbar when tapped.

Although Firefox Mobile is still at a very early stage, the Wiki allows us to see how it's currently shaping up and get ready for some of the features it'll bring with it. As a Firefox user on the desktop, I'm certainly looking forward to having a matching browser on my mobile; that said, it'll have to do quite some work to match the usability and speed of Opera Mobile, my current mobile browser of choice.

Looking forward to getting Firefox on your mobile phone, or should Mozilla leave the mobile browsing market to those with more experience? Let us know your thoughts over in the forums.
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