Fennec on Android is a Crash Test Dummy

29 Apr

We folks at Cellpassion (like millionsof people around the world) love the Firefox browser on our PCs,feeling that it not only serves up the best browsing experience on acomputer but is also a dab hand when it comes to speed and security.So you can imagine our delight when we heard that a version ofFirefox, dubbed Fennec, had been released for Android devices (onlyfor those running Android 2.0 and above, though). We immediately gotthe build, which we were told was a “pre-alpha,” and had been testedonly on the Moto Droid and the Google Nexus One, and promptlyinstalled it on our Motorola Milestone, which runs Android 2.1.

Atslightly more than 10MB, Fennec for Android is a hefty download. Andbe warned – it will not start after installation unless you restartthe phone. And when it started, it just would notshow up an onscreen keyboard, forcing us to slide out the physicalone on our Milestone. The menu and back buttons on the Milestone werealso useless, although the browser did have onscreen buttons forboth. Performance-wise, the browser fully lived up to its “pre-alpha”tag, rendering pages at a pace that was downright slow in this era ofOpera Minis, Bolts (not Usain, but still…) and Safaris.Theadd-ons, which were supposed to be the browser’s biggest plus-point,worked fitfully and tabbed browsing existed only in name as we werenever able to open more than one site, irrespective of how many tabswe had open. There is an option to download other add-ons, but again,this did not really work for us. Fennec repeatedly froze our handsetand made switching to other apps very difficult – we were often leftstaring at a white screen and twiddling our fingers nervously.

Yes,we did like the idea of the interface which has hidden menus oneither side of the main screen, and which can be accessed by slidingone’s finger across the screen, leaving one with more screen realestate while browsing the Web. But, that apart, Fennec’s currentavatar now seems more an effort to prove that there is a mobileversion of Firefox in the works for Android than a serious attempt atproviding a viable alternative to the likes of Dolphin, Opera Mini orChrome.

A crash test dummy, if there  ever was one. Wejust hope it survives all the crashes. Meanwhile, if you too want a taster of the Fennec on Android experience, just download the app from here.

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