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A brand new browsing experience arrives in Firefox for Android Nightly


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It’s been almost 9 years since we released the first Firefox for Android. Hundreds of millions of users have tried it and over time provided us with valuable feedback that allowed us to continuously improve the app, bringing more features to our users that increase their privacy and make their mobile lives easier. Now we’re starting a new chapter of the Firefox experience on Android devices.


Testing to meet the users’ needs


Back in school, most of us weren’t into tests. They were stressful and we’d rather be playing or hanging out with friends. As adults, however, we see the value of testing — especially when it comes to software: testing ensures that we roll out well-designed products to a wide audience that deliver on their intended purposes.


At Firefox, we have our users at heart, and the value our products provide to them is at the center of everything we do.


That’s why we test a lot. It’s why we make our products available as Nightly (an early version for developers) and Beta versions (a more stable preview of a new piece of software), put the Test Pilot program in place and sometimes, when we enter entirely new territory, we add yet another layer of user testing. It’s exactly that spirit that motivated us to launch Firefox Preview Beta in June 2019. Now we’re ready for the next step.


A new Firefox for Android: the making-of


When we started working on this project, we wanted to create a better Firefox for Android that would be faster, more reliable, and able to address today’s user problems. Plus, we wanted it to be based on our own mobile browser engine GeckoView in order to offer the highest level of privacy and security available on the Android platform. In short: we wanted to make sure that our users would never have to choose between privacy and a great browsing experience.


We had an initial idea of what that new Android product would look like, backed up by previous user research. And we were eager to test it, see how users feel about it, and find out what changes we needed to make and adjust accordingly. To minimize user disruption, early versions of this next generation browser were offered to early adopters as a separate application called Firefox Preview.


In order to ensure a fast, efficient and streamlined user experience, we spent the last couple of months narrowing down on what problems our users wanted us to solve, iterating on how we built and surfaced features to them. We looked closely at usage behaviour and user feedback to determine whether our previous assumptions had been correct and where changes would be necessary.


The feedback from our early adopters was overwhelmingly positive: the Firefox Preview Beta users loved the app’s fresh modern looks and the noticeably faster browsing experience due to GeckoView as well as new UI elements, such as the bottom navigation bar. When it came to tracking protection, we learned that Android users prefer a browsing experience with a more strict protection and less distractions — that’s why we made Strict Mode the default in Firefox Preview Beta, while Firefox for Desktop comes with Standard Mode.


Firefox Preview Beta goes Nightly


Based on the previous 6 months of user testing and the positive feedback we have received, we’re confident that Android users will appreciate this new browsing experience and we’re very happy to announce that, as of Tuesday (January 21, 2020), we’re starting to roll it out to our existing Firefox for Android audience in the Nightly app. For current Nightly users, it’ll feel like a big exciting upgrade of their browsing experience once they update the app, either manually or automatically, depending on their preset update routine. New users can easily download Firefox Preview here.


As for next milestones, the brand new Firefox for Android will go into Beta in Spring 2020 and land in the main release later in the first half of this year. In the meantime, we’re looking forward to learning more about the wider user group’s perception of the new Firefox for Android as well as to more direct feedback, allowing us to deliver the best-in-class mobile experience that our users deserve.





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Firefox for Android migration is about to begin

Mozilla announced today that it will soon migrate Firefox for Android Nightly installations to the new Firefox Preview for Android Nightly version.


The organization has been working on a new mobile web browser for Android that is based on different technologies than the old. The new web browser will offer advantages over the old including better performance and faster updates according to Mozilla.


Mozilla revealed plans to migrate users of the classic Firefox web browser for Android to the new mobile browser in 2020. Nightly users would be migrated first before users of beta and stable versions of the Firefox web browser would be migrated later that year.




The announcement reveals that the time has come for Nightly versions of Firefox. From next Tuesday (January 21), Nightly versions of the classic Firefox application for Android may be upgraded to the new Firefox browser for Android (which is called Firefox Preview currently).

Based on the previous 6 months of user testing and the positive feedback we have received, we’re confident that Android users will appreciate this new browsing experience and we’re very happy to announce that, as of Tuesday (January 21, 2020), we’re starting to roll it out to our existing Firefox for Android audience in the Nightly app.

Nightly users may be upgraded automatically depending on how updates are configured. If updates are configured to be automatic, Nightly will be migrated to the new version automatically. Firefox for Android Nightly users who don't want that to happen at that point, and there are valid reasons for not wanting to do so at the time of writing, can set updates to manual instead to prevent the migration for the time being. The new mobile browser is also available as a standalone download on Google Play.


Note: Some data will be migrated including open tabs, bookmarks and the browsing history. For passwords to be migrated, a master password cannot be used.


Probably the biggest blocker right now from the point of view of Firefox users is that the new browser does not really support extensions at this point in time. The new browser will support extensions, Mozilla revealed as much in mid-2019, but support will be introduced over time.


The ad-blocker uBlock Origin will be the first add-on that will be supported officially. Full support for WebExtensions comes in late 2020 according to Mozilla.

Closing Words

One of the distinguishing factors between Firefox for Android and Google Chrome is the former's support for extensions. The discussion whether the new Firefox would support extensions, and if so to what degree, felt agonizing.


Considering that extensions are important to many users, Mozilla should probably consider having extensions ready in the new stable version of the browser before it starts the migration.



Source: Firefox for Android migration is about to begin (gHacks - Martin Brinkmann)

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