Firefox unleashes updates on Android today

The new, faster, Firefox for Android
The new, faster, Firefox for Android

Mozilla has been hard at work reinventing its Firefox browser for Android devices, and the results of that labor are now available in an update today.

Chief among the enhancements in Firefox's new Android version is a much speedier boot up and web browsing experience.

According to Mozilla's Eideticker benchmark, the updated browser is about three times faster than it was prior to today's update and almost twice the speed of the Chrome for Android beta.

Flash support is also included and improved with the mobile-specific tap to play feature. Tap to play means that media-rich Flash content won't play until you tap on an icon, allowing pages to load faster - cutting down on data usage.

The new version also ups the browser's privacy and security features, making it the first mobile browser to support Do Not Track as well as features like master password support, and HTTP strict transport security.

More than an update

Though today's Firefox for Android release is technically just an update, in many ways it's like a whole new browser.

Mozilla dropped its previous XUL-based interface in favor of Java widgets, as well as reworking the browser for better implementation of HTML5, Javascript, CSS, and hardware API support.

These under the hood upgrades enable the browser's new found speed, as well as a new personalized start up page based on most visited sites and tabbed pages and what Mozilla has dubbed the "Awesome Screen."

The Awesome Screen uses Firefox Sync, bringing all of your browsing history, bookmarks, passwords, and form data from the PC to your mobile browser.

Firefox add-on support has also been rolled in and optimized for mobile devices.

This is undoubtedly the big announcement Mozilla teased for Android users last week.

It will be interesting to see how the new Firefox for Android fares after the Google I/O 2012 conference this week, with the possibility of Chrome becoming Android's default browser for Jelly Bean.

The new Firefox for Android is compatible with Android OS 2.2 and above.