fennec

Mozilla's Director of Developer Relations, Christopher Blizzard, sat down with Gizmodo to discuss Firefox's mobile browser (formerly known as Fennec). Blizzard took the opportunity to reaffirm the company isn't developing for Windows Phones. This isn't anything new but it's more so how Mr. Blizzard make the affirmation that caught our attention.

"[On Windows Phone 7] they said, 'You can use stuff in Silverlight if you want, but you have to come through our app store, and we get to veto.' We're not going to bother. They're gonna ship some version of IE, which is gonna be terrible..."

We will assume "they" is Microsoft.  In referring to Windows Mobile Blizzard said,

"We were going to do Windows Mobile because Windows Mobile really needed a good browser, but they shut down their platform.".

We can't blame for Mr. Blizzard presenting Mozilla's mobile browser as the best thing since sliced bread but there are good browsers out there for the Windows Phone. Skyfire and Opera come to mind.

So, can a Windows Phone 7 ever survive without Mozilla's mobile browser? Are the current crop of browsers on Windows Mobile that bad? Personally, I think Mr. Blizzard is well off the mark. How about you?

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Color us surprised (not really).

The Mozilla team, who have been talking about a mobile browser for Windows Mobile since January 2008, have at least temporarily pulled the plug on Mobile Firefox aka Fennec for Windows Mobile 6.5 and any future iterations e.g. Phone 7 Series.

They cite the obvious changing landscape between the two platforms and the "closed" nature of WP7s as reasons for the "hold" on development. They forgot to mention the slow-as-molasses part.

While we here at WMExperts have always been fond of the promise of a Mobile Firefox, we've been more impressed with the delivery of such a product from Opera Mobile, who have routinely developed and improved upon the browsing experience without fanfare, hype, "milestones" or the chaos that often results from an open source attempt.

Sure, Mobile Firefox could have been a good thing, but it's been 2 years since Mozilla committed themselves to a serious mobile browser. Two years! To which we reply with, "Sorry we don't have time to wait, we're moving on." Microsoft built a whole mobile OS within the last year whereas Mozilla can't get us decent milestones for their browser. 

Sorry fellas, we would have missed you a year ago had you succeeded. But now, it's hard to miss vaporware.

[via Techie Buzz]

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One of the main reasons many of us love Firefox is for the plugin support--there's everything from Better Gmail to Omnibar to SkipScreen, all of which fix the many pitfalls of the internet.

So it's with great excitement that we read AdBlock Plus will work with Firefox's new mobile browser Fennec (which is still in early development). 

For those who don't know, AdBlock Plus is a plugin that downloads a database of ads to block while you are surfing the internet.  In turn, web pages are less cluttered and more importantly for those with slow connections or who are mobile, it allows pages to load faster.  For every ad that you see, that is one more thing to download and one more server for your device to connect to, so reducing that increases speed.  Very cool.

Of course there are consequences to blocking ads.  Specifically you are hurting much needed revenue for websites, cutting off their life blood. So we suggest you selectively use AdBlock Plus on sites you visit, disabling it for those you support.  In other words, we ask you, nay beg you oh wise internet surfers, to not use it on WMExperts as you'll deprive some of us that morning cup of coffee and you know, would have to close shop.  Thaaaaanks!

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Mozilla Weave hits V1.0b

The lines between desktop and mobile computing just got a little more blurry. (That's a good thing.) Mozilla's Weave service, which, in a nutshell, syncs your browser data — including bookmarks, passwords, history and even open tabs — just his 1.0 beta status. Why is this important for Windows Mobile, you ask? Because Mozilla's been working on its mobile browser (codenamed Fennec) for some time now, and Weave will play an integral part in it.

If you've been using a desktop browser sync, you already know what we're talking about. Your data is seamlessly synced between one or more computers and the cloud. Weave goes a step further, also syncing the data with the Fennec browser. I've been using Weave off and on with Firefox for a while now, and it's steadily improved. And v1.0b is even faster and more transparent. Now we just need to see Fennec get out the door (and get much faster), and we'll have a real browser war on our hands. [download Weave via Mozilla Labs]

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The folks at Mozilla have released the Alpha 3 build of Fennec, aka the mobile Firefox browser.

Much-improved, says Mozilla's Brad Lassey (read our early Q&A with him) are start-up times, better panning, and some support for phones other than the HTC Touch Pro.

Go get the CAB file here, and if out there's running a brand-spanking new Touch Pro 2, let us know how it looks on there. (And remember, you can play with the Fennec lastest desktop emulator here.)

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Mozilla VP talks Firefox mobile

We're still eagerly anticipating the release of the mobile Firefox browser, and the boys and girls at Mozilla are hard at work. Vice President Jay Sullivan recently talked with Lifehacker about plans in the mobile space.

"What we're seeing happen in mobile is just what we've been seeing on the desktop for the last five years. That's migrating from more client-heavy applications to more web-based applications. Fennec is built on the latest version of our browser engine, and has support for offline storage and things called web workers, which enables threaded applications that can run faster. All these technologies make it possible to build a first-class, HTML5-based application."

And in case you missed it, we also had our own interview with Firefox mobile's Brad Lassey some time ago.

Lifehacker: Mozilla VP on What Firefox Mobile Means for Your Phone

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Firefox mobile browser hits Alpha 2

When Firefox released the first Alpha build of its mobile browser -- aka Fennec -- in May, it left a lot of you underwhelemed. Hey, it was an Alpha build. Don't say we (and Mozilla) didn't warn you. But work has been progressing, and Mozilla just released the Alpha 2 build. Here's what's new in Alpha 2: [via Pavlov's blog]

  • Improved panning performance
  • Newly designed theme
  • JavaScript error console is now built in
  • Improved add-on support
  • Numerous bug fixes
  • Improved UI polish

As per the usual, Mozilla is developing for the HTC Touch Pro. So back up your info, and get to testing. Here's the download link. (Don't have a Touch Pro? Try out the desktop versions.) And let us know in the comments how things look.

Update: Here's one fairly big known bug worth noting:

Allow panning/scrolling in iframes - Websites that display large amounts of content in IFrames, including Google Mail and Reader, will be very hard, if not impossible, to use.

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Work on the Firefox mobile browser — aka Fennec — has been marching steadily ahead, and the team has released an official Alpha build. The highlights:

  • New Add-Ons Manager
  • New Downloads Manager
  • New CSS based theme
  • TraceMonkey, Mozilla's new JavaScript engine
  • jemalloc, the memory management library used by Mozillla.
  • Faster application start-up time
  • Faster panning
  • Faster zooming
  • Initial implementation of bookmark folders and bookmark editing

Just like with the pre-Alpha and nightly build versions, this was built and tested on an HTC Touch Pro, so there's where you're likely to have the most success. That said, this is Alpha, and bugs are likely.

Says Mozilla's Brad Lassey (read our interview with him here) in his blog:

It is not yet recommended to use this release for daily browsing tasks. Certain performance problems will become immediately apparent to the user. Panning has a noticeable delay between the user first touching the page and the page moving. We are certain that other less obvious bugs exist and we invite you to help bring them to light. You can find detailed information on how to file a good bug in bugzilla , our bug tracking system, here .

So remember, folks. This isn't a finished version, but a pretty big step in the process. Get your download on here (or here directly from your phone), and let us know in the comments how it works for you.

Update: Video of the Alpha release after the break.

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The feature list for the Firefox mobile browser is steadily growing. In addition to the (soon-to-be) standard Firefox 3.5 engine, we're also expecting to see:

  • Weave: The all-remembering password/bookmark/tab/add-on/everything sync feature.
  • Geolocation: Your browser can tell where you are.
  • Gesture browsing: Possibly. We've seen a cool demonstration.

And now, we see a prototype that could bring automatic Web site logins to the mobile and desktop browsers via Weave sync. It'll handle OpenID, as well as normal username/password logins.

Of course, all of this is still in the early stages, and work on the Firefox mobile browser continues. Check out the demo video of the auto log-in.

Mozilla Labs blog via Lifehacker

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There's an old online real-estate joke with the punchline "Geolocation, geolocation, geolocation," and we've gotten word that geolocation will be supported out of the box with the Firefox mobile browser, aka Fennec.

Firefox will use Google Location Service and while it won't require an add-on to make it functional, it will ask your permission before giving your location to a Web site. (If you've ever used an iPhone or iPod Touch, you're used to this. But in Firefox's case, permission will be asked in a drop-down dialog box as seen above, and not in an obtrusive modal box.)

Triangulation will take place using GPS, WiFi, cell tower or manual entry, and geolocation also will be included in the upcoming Firefox 3.5 desktop browser.

From Mozilla's Doug Turner:

We are happy to announce that Firefox 3.5 and Fennec will be using Google Location Service. We found that we agreed on the many privacy concerns around location. Do check out Mozilla’s privacy policy and Google’s privacy policy. I am pretty excited about these policies I think they are going to be the industry standard when it comes to network based geolocation providers.

Doug does an excellent job of explaining the technical details of it all, including privacy concerns, on his blog, and Google's got more tech specs on its end.

And speaking of Firefox/Fennec, there's a new alpha nightly build available (HTC Touch Pro only, folks) that can now render pages, say some testers. Give it a shot, but be sure to back up your phone first. Update: As for the future of the Firefox mobile browser? Here's what Mozilla just gave us:

"We are on track for shipping an alpha in the near future and a beta sometime this summer, and are working toward a general release later this year. As with all our releases at Mozilla, we'll stick to our 'ship it when its ready' policy."

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Video: Firefox Mobile beta on Nokia N810

So the pre-alpha release of the Firefox mobile browser for Windows Mobile was hit by a pretty big roadblock, but our friends at Nokia Experts can now enjoy a beta release on the N810 mobile Internet tablet.

This is just about the best look at the browser we've seen thus far, though you'll have to imagined it scaled down a little bit for a smartphone. But we get to see it doing real browser stuff, and that's exciting enough. So sit back, relax and take a gander at what we can hope to see toward the summer.

Via Gizmodo

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Work continues on the Windows Mobile version of the Firefox mobile browser (heretofore known as Fennec), but the Nokia version is farther along. And it's there that we take a quick peek at what we expect to eventually see in our version.

At the top of our list is Weave, which basically is a monster sync extension that will connect your phone's Firefox browser with your desktop version of Firefox.

If you use the XMarks (formerly Foxmarks) extension, you're already used to syncing bookmarks and passwords. Weave does even more, as you can see in the picture above. You also can sync cookies, tabs, history, forms and input.

Head on over to the Fennec blog and see more of Weave running on a Nokia N810.

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My, my, these Mozilla folks are an ambitious bunch. We already know about a bunch of the goodies to expect when we finally get our hands on a working version of the Firefox mobile browser, heretofore known as "Fennec" or "Firefox Mobile."

We know that the browser should support things we're used to on the desktop version: Add-ons, tabbed browsing, and the coup de grace — support for Weave, which syncs bookmarks, add-ons, passwords and the like.

Now comes word from Mozilla dev Jono that the mobile browser will sync tabs. Fellow Mozillian Brad Lassey (check out our Q&A with him here) puts this into a real-world scenario:

Several use cases have been thrown around, but the one that rings the loudest for me goes something like this: You’re looking for a new restaurant to try from your laptop at home, find one and head out. Once you get to the neighborhood, you realize you have no idea where this hole in the wall place is. With tab syncing you can pull out your mobile device, launch Fennec and see a list of tabs open on your laptop (and all your other computers). You select the tab you need, and instantly are looking at the same content you had on your laptop.

Pretty cool, indeed. In other news, ZDNet UK [via] had a sit-down with Mozilla Mobile Business chief Jay Sullivan, who tells us that "Fennec" is just a code name, and the browser will simply be "Firefox," and not "Firefox Mobile."

So, you'll have Firefox running on your Windows phone, which in turn will be running Windows Mobile (be it 6, 6.1 or 6.5). Your desktop or lappy will have Firefox running on Windows, until such time as you choose to become mobile and — oh, no, I've gone cross-eyed.

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Unless you're a real dev-type, the "Milestone Release" of Mozilla's Fennec mobile browser likely was a nonstarter — it's a pre-alpha build and not at all intended to serve as a daily browser just yet. But what it does do is show us that work on the browser is progressing nicely for Windows Mobile.

We're serious about our excitement for Fennec from what we've seen in the desktop release. When all is said and done, it likely will give the iPhone's mobile Safari a run for its money. Javascript engine. Extensions. Cloud syncing for bookmarks and the like. We could go on. But if you're a desktop Firefox-lover, you know where we're coming from.

Fennec developer Brad Lassey, who joined the company in October 2008 to work on mobile products, agreed to answer a few of our burning questions about Fennec. Will it be available for non-touchscreen phones? What's up with Fennec for our cousins over at NokiaExperts? When might we see a proper Windows Mobile beta? And what can we do to help?

Lassey's answers, after the break.

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Ask and ye shall receive. No sooner do we get another very cool look at what Fennec – Mozilla's Firefox Mobile browser – can do, the team releases the first "Milestone Release" for the HTC Touch Pro.

A word of warning: This is a "Milestone Release" and is not the finished product. As Mozilla's Brad Lassey explains:

Our focus to this point has been to have a working, usable browser. To get there in a hurry we have punted in a few places, and I’d like to point a couple of them out. First is the update mechanism (both for the browser itself and for extensions). After installing this release, you will not be offered updates automatically, so please stay tuned for follow up releases. Also, we have disabled plug-in support. This is one of our high priority items going forward. Finally, as I mentioned before, there is no soft keyboard support. On an HTC Touch Pro, you’ll have to slide out the keyboard to enter a url.

Lassey also takes on the recent "leaked" versions of Fennec that were floating around. (See our own "There's a Mad Fennec on the Loose")

Over the last week and half there have been several blog posts and “news” articles floating around the internet about leaked Windows Mobile Fennec builds. This has been fairly entertaining to those of us working on the project for a couple reasons. First, the builds that these posts have pointed to are the builds that I pointed to on twitter. They were intended to be used by the developers working on the project (or anyone else willing to deal with really buggy software) to find bugs before we pushed anything out to the general public.

While today's Milestone Release isn't the finished product, it's the first time most of us are going to get a good hands-on with the mobile browser best positioned to take on mobile Safari. So, back up your phone (we'll say it again — back up your phone) go download the CAB file here (again, HTC Touch Pro only, for now), and get to playin'. Let us know in the comments how it's holding up for you.

Update: Looks like the browser loads just fine, but the actual, uh, browsing may not be going so fine. Don't say we didn't warn you.

Update 2: Mozilla's on the case, as its own Ben Combee notes in the comments. Thanks, Ben!

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We're still waiting for an official beta of Mozilla's Fennec mobile browser, and it now looks like it's targeted for later this month. [via] (Update: The Milestone Release is out now.) But in the meantime, here's some more to whet your appetite. One of the cooler features of Fennec is its ability to support add-ons, just like it's big brother desktop browser. Above we have a video from felipc, who's doing some very cool work with gesture inputs for the browser.

Obviously, this is a demonstration performed on a Mac, but you can imagine how powerful this could be on a mobile phone. We see demonstrated:

  • Open a new tab: draw a circle
  • Close a tab: draw an X
  • Go to home page: draw a house
  • Bookmark a page: draw a star
  • Open a mini menu: draw a counter-clockwise circle

Get this on a properly equipped phone – it remains to be seen what kind of graphics/processing power it's going to need, though the Touch Pro was identified as a probable beta test platform – and it likely could become our browser of choice.

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There's a mad Fennec on the loose

Normally we're all about leaks. We love getting our hands on the latest and greatest phones, operating systems and software before anyone else, being a guinea pig, and then sharing the results with you.

This is not one of those times.

We first noticed a leaked version of Mozilla's Fennec browser floating around the Internets on Thursday. And the early consensus was that it's nowhere near ready for prime time and is definitely not the beta we're expecting on the Touch Pro in the coming days. Our guess? The code's been compiled but certainly wasn't intended for mass consumption. So we let it go, but kept our eyes on it. But that hasn't stopped other brave souls from trying it. So, after the break, we bring you a video from Pocketnow of a browser that doesn't yet work.

Why are we getting our registry entries in a twist over this? For one, our excitement for Fennec has grown as we've waited. With all the power we're used to in Firefox with bookmarks, add-ons and Mozilla Weave, this could be the first mobile browser to really give Safari on the iPhone a run for its money (with apologies to Skyfire and the Opera 9.5 beta — ya know we've got love for ya). Ask us what our top gripes about Windows Mobile are, and a proper browser will always be in the Top 5. And that's why we'd prefer to put Fennec through its paces once the real beta build is released. Even then, it will be a beta, so there undoubtedly will be some niggles. So, Mozilla, take your time. Let's get this right.

In the meantime, instead of loading some half-baked version on your phone, we suggest trying the desktop emlator instead.

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Despite a previous update from the Mozilla team, it now looks like the Firefox Mobile browser, codenamed Fennec, could be ready for a Windows Mobile beta as soon as next week, and they've chosen a phone to do the honors.

From this week's meeting:

We are targeting a Milestone release for the first week of February, targeting the HTC touch pro.

There you have it. And dollars to donuts once the kids at XDA Developers get hold of this, we'll see it ported to other HTC phones pretty quickly.

If you still can't wait and want to give Fennec a try on your desktop, hit us up here for a link to the emulator versions.

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Video of Fennec on 6.1 Emulator

Playing around with the Fennec emulator has been fun. Its opened our eyes to a whole new way to browse the web from our mobile. Although cool, it really doesn't let us know what the actual application will ultimately look like once on the device.How fast will Fennec be? Is it stable? Will it be another IE?

Open source whiz Gnubeashie might answer some of those questions with an early attempt of what Fennec will look like on 6.1. Keep in mind this is a first attempt (and also just emulation, but at least it's WinMo emulation), but from the looks of it Fennec will be running smoothly.

Vid after the break.  [via wmpowerusers]

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We'd had a fleeting hope that after last month's Alpha 2 release we might see an actual Windows Mobile beta build of Fennec, the upcoming Firefox Mobile browser, in the first couple of months of the year. Alas, it's not to be.

Mozilla's Fennec test plan notes Feb. 27 as the scheduled date for the Beta 1 release, then lets us down in no uncertain terms.

NOTE: this is a Beta1 for Maemo, not Windows Mobile or Symbian

So, work continues, and it sounds like they're making progress. Here are the WinMo notes from this week's Fennec meeting:

Building from trunk is blocked by NSPR, NSS and freetype font backend patches getting review. The font patch has been getting regular review and update, its being held up somewhat now because of conflicts with @font-face work. NSS and NSPR patches have stalled out.

Performance is improving steadily, once we can build from the trunk the focus will be on getting performance patches landed.

Patience, grasshopper.

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