Android is Rough but Promising Terrain for Firefox, Opera Updates

Smartphones and tablets are not only good for apps but also for web browsing.  Unfortunately, not all mobile browsers are easy to use and often load at a snail’s pace, so web browsing on our handheld devices can be quite frustrating at times.  God thing some of the leading mobile web browser providers had the wits to upgrade their offerings.

Opera Hybrid Browser

The Norwegian company is gearing up to launch a new hybrid browser that toggles between Opera Mini and Opera Mobile when the network is strained to cut the data-transfer burden, Chief Executive Lars Boilesen said in an interview on CNET.  Opera users will no longer have to worry about their internet connection as Opera will do the thinking for you.  It combines the best of Opera Mini and Opera Mobile  with special features for Android devices called Opera Turbo.

Basically, Opera Mobile is a traditional browser while the Opera Mini compresses web version of pages to fit into the phone thus reducing data consumption.

“We’d like to take Mini and put it into Mobile,” Boilesen said. “We call it Opera with Turbo for Android…That is something we are looking forward to launch at the beginning of next year.”

Firefox Native UI and NoScript

Firefox decided that the best way to go about mobile browsing on Android devices is to go native, though they are still continuing with the Gecko project.   The sudden change was brought about by several reasons as Firefox faces steep competition from Google’s own browser efforts on desktops and mobile devices.  For mobile, a native UI can be presented much faster than an XUL-based UI, since it can happen in parallel with Gecko startup.  This means startup times are reduced to fractions of a second, versus several seconds for a XUL UI on some phones. As far as memory use goes, Firefox believes a native UI will use significantly less memory.  Then there’s responsiveness, where a native UI has the potential for beautiful panning and zooming performance.

The mobile browsing world is following closely in the footsteps of the desktop era, learning from its past lessons wherever applicable.  It means mobile browsing security is going to become a top priority for providers like Firefox and Opera, as mobile attacks are even more opportune on handheld devices.  

NoScript, the security extension for Firefox, has already addressed some of these concerns.  It has released for Android and Maemo platforms to give users access to a security feature for mobile that is likened to those found on desktop computers.

“This is the first feature-complete mobile version of NoScript. In other words, it provides all the major security features of its desktop counterpart which make sense on a mobile device,” said Noscript’s creator Giorgio Maone in announcing the Firefox extension’s 3.0a8 release.