Firefox 4 Beta for Android: Very Slow on Droid, Acceptable Speed on Nexus One, Many Missing Features

The Firefox browser for mobile phones has a long and twisty history. It started out as a project named Minimo back in 2004, was restarted and renamed Fennec in 2008, and now appears to be simply Firefox for mobile. Three years ago, Susan Schrank provided this announcement in this blog.

Mobile Firefox for Linux, Windows Mobile By Year-end

In the fall of 2009, I wrote:

Mozilla Fennec Alpha 3 for Windows Mobile: Unuseable Right Now But Worth Waiting For

In year 8 of its off-and-on development, we learn this from the Mozilla blog:

New Firefox 4 Beta for Android and Maemo is Faster than Ever

I first installed and tried it on a Motorola Droid. Unfortunately, it ran so slowly and, apparently used so much of the phone’s resources, that I had to pull the battery, reinsert it, and reboot to get back control of the phone. Fortunately, Firefox 4 Beta for Android was much better behaved on a Nexus One and even ran acceptably fast. It appears to be missing basic features like adding bookmarks. And, I could not see an add-in options beyond the few that are listed. There didn’t seem to be a way to create new tabs (windows) either. Firefox Mobile for Android is beta in performance but alpha release level in features. I should note that it is good to see progress for this project. But, at this rate, it may be a full decade before we see a 1.0 production release.