Firefox for Android

After years of being one of the most used desktop browsers, Firefox has caused quite a stir since its release on the Android operating system. Sailing past 10 million downloads in just a few months, it’s clear Firefox has made the transition from desktop to mobile well. But what makes it such a success? Well, for one the app is updated every six weeks, with Mozilla constantly looking at new ways to make sure users stay onboard with Firefox, and with strong competition from the likes of Chrome and Dolphin, this is certainly an idea that seems to be paying off.

Q&A with Johnathan Nightingale, Vice President of Firefox Engineering

What makes the Firefox browser different from the likes of Opera Mobile and Chrome? 
Firefox for Android is the only mobile browser that offers user-centric, innovative features, while still fi ercely safeguarding user privacy and data. Unlike other browsers, it is open source, which means that collaboration with developers and users can be actively enabled and promoted globally at every stage of development. By doing this, Mozilla is able to deliver products with new features, performance enhancements, security updates and stability improvements faster.

You look to update the app every six weeks or so. Does each update contain new features, or just refi ne older ones? 
Each new version offers a range of updates, both refi nements to old features as well as new ones. For example, the latest release includes support for private browsing on a per-tab basis, which allows users to open a new private browsing tab during a current browsing session. In addition, Firefox for Android now allows for shortcut customisation on the home screen for a user’s favourite or frequently visited sites.

What measures does Firefox take to help keep users safe online? 
Firefox for Android is packed with advanced security features to help users stay safe online and control where and when their data is shared. Two of Firefox for Android’s main features are Do Not Track and Master Password, which let users tell websites that they would like to opt out of online behavioural tracking used for advertising and protect usernames and passwords that users save in Firefox.

What are the best add-ons you can offer mobile users looking to download Firefox for Android? Firefox for Android has a number of  add-ons that let users completely customise the browser. Currently Firefox for Android’s three most popular add-ons are Adblock Plus, Flash Video Downloader and Stylish.

People like to be able to connect their devices together, is there a way to connect your mobile version of Firefox to the desktop one? Firefox Sync was created to let users take all their data from their desktop browser such as bookmarks, history, passwords, add-ons and open tabs, with them wherever they go. All you need to do is set up Firefox Sync on a home computer and your phone. From then on your data will be securely stored on Mozilla’s servers and synchronised automatically across both platforms.

You’ve sailed past the 10 million download mark on the Google Play store, what do you think is the key to Firefox’s success? We believe the success of Firefox for Android is due to providing users with a fully customisable, fast and secure browser that allows them to customise their web experience on their phone. Offering users the same great browsing experience that they can have on their computer on their mobile phone unlocks the full potential the web has to offer, whenever they want and wherever they are.

Are you constantly looking to develop Firefox to keep up with the latest smartphone technology? 
For example, the Galaxy S4 launched with eye-tracking software… One of the great things about the rapid release cycle is that it enables Mozilla to be at the forefront of smartphone technology. Mozilla is constantly working on new versions in order to develop a browser that provides users with the latest features and best browsing experience on their mobile phone. Android_Magazine_Issue_26_2013