Mozilla Puts Final Touches On Alpha Browser Fennec For Android

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The new alpha Fennec 2.0, which is slated to run on the Google Android platform, touts enhanced performance speed as well as a bevy of synchronization capabilities that are facilitated, in part, by separating the user interface and rendering processes.

Specifically, Mozilla said in blog posts that one of the biggest back-end changes in this latest Fennec version is Electrolysis, which moves content rendering and JavaScript into a separate process, and allows the Fennec UI be more responsive to user input while the pages are loading -- an enhancement that required Mozilla to rewrite large parts of the Fennec UIT and platform code, Mozilla said friday in a blog post

Down the road, Electrolysis will enable Fennec 2 for authors to add new add-on items.

Mozilla says it's also planning a host of new features for its alpha browser, including a built-in Firefox Sync feature, designed to sync tabs, bookmarks, and browsing history to the user's phone without them having to install an add-on. The new sync feature, which Mozilla also baked into its latest browser release Firefox 4 Beta 4, will be available to earlier Firefox editions as an add-on and for the iPhone via the free Firefox Home app.

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In addition, Fennec 2.0 offers a new Find In Page command available either through the site menu or by pressing "Control F." Users can also share links through Twitter, Facebook, Google Reader or e-mail, while the final version will also let them send links using native Android or Maemo apps. Prior versions of Fennec were written for Nokia's Maemo operating system, but the next release will run on both the Google Android platform as well as Maemo's successor MeeGo.

Fennec alpha is also designed to make it easier for users to enter phone numbers and e-mail addresses into Web forms due to better synchronization with their phone's address book.

In addition, the new alpha version includes multi-touch gestures, such as pinch zoom, while later releases will include multi-touch swipe gestures to go to the top or bottom of the selected page.

Mozilla has not confirmed an official release date for Fennec 2.0 for Android but says that it plans to tie up loose ends once the remaining a1 blocker bugs are fixed, which could be as early as September.

Fennec 2.0 can be installed on many, but not all, smartphones running Google's Android, including Nexus One, HTC's Desire, Droid Incredible, EVO 4G and Legend, Motorola's Droid 2 and Droid X.

Android users can download a copy of Fennec 2.0 from Mozilla's mobile site.

"Now things are starting to stabilize, and we are gearing up for an alpha release in just a few weeks. There are still noticeable bungs in our current builds, but it is possible to use them now for testing, add-on development and regular Web browsing (if you don't mind occasional crashes)," Mozilla said in a blog post.