playing with fennec

Fennec is the codename for Mozilla’s answer to mobile browsing. While an alpha and now beta versions have been available for the Nokia N810 for several months, this week it was the turn for Windows Mobile based devices. Mozilla have now released version 1.0a1 for WM6.1+ devices to developers for testing.

We have been waiting for a mobile version of Firefox since forever, currently on WM6.1 we have a choice between using Internet Explorer 6 Mobile or Opera Mobile, There are some other browsers available but none that really tear people away from IE or Opera. While Opera Mobile is vastly superior to IE6mobile and renders pages as a desktop browser does, it unfortunately comes with a small price tag unless bundled with your operator and so means a lot of people are stuck using IE. Fennec is about to change all that.

I’ve been playing with Fennec since its release on the 15th and I have to say its rather good. Navigation is quick to respond and doesn’t take long to get used to, like existing mobile browser users swipe and tap the screen to pan and zoom in on pages, tabs and menu items are available by pulling the left and right edges of the screen respectively, to open side menus, this works well on a mobile device as you save space for viewing the website, although I did find when reading some pages I accidentally opened the menus more than I’d liked.

Websites load as expected and without any particular long load times, other than the expected result of mobile browsing, I tested via WI-FI and didn’t notice any load time at all, built in javascript engine was able to handle some very javascript heavy sites like Facebook with out giving up in the way mobile IE does. I could even get Youtube working once I’d enabled plug-ins.

There is support for basic add-ons and as mentioned before tabbed browsing, both of which help to improve the mobile browsing experience although opera has had both these (tabs and widgets) for a while, Fennec seems to load them quicker than the version of opera i have installed.

The only problems i found while testing fennec were a result of my win mobile device, it seems to use a lot of memory which my poor tytnII doesnt have much of spare, am sure on the newer win mobile devices it runs fine.

Overall for an alpha development Im very impressed, the basics are already in place and Im looking forward to the next release.

Fennec is available to download here or if you don’t have a win mobile device you can install it to your desktop by grabbing a copy of the fennec desktop build.

Watch a walk through of the new features included in the Win Mobile Alpha build courtesy of Madhava Enros

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