3 Killer Features of Firefox for Android

Once upon a time, Firefox was the browser for power users. Google Chrome now, arguably, holds that title. Don't count Firefox out, though- especially on mobile.

One of Firefox's greatest strengths has always been customization, and on that front, Firefox still reigns supreme. For those willing to tinker, it's easy to get into the the browser's nuts and bolts to tweak it to your liking. This is largely done through addons, and it was the addon ecosystem that catapulted Firefox to its revered status among power users in its infancy. In this respect, too, Chrome has surpassed Mozilla's Firefox.

Not on mobile, though. Extensions aren't available for the Chrome browser on the Android platform- which brings me to my first killer feature for Firefox on Android.

Gestures

Quick gestures for Firefox is an addon that allows using one-finger gestures to manipulate the browser. You can navigate to the previous or next tab, go back or forward in your history, close a tab, open a new tab, and quite a bit more. Each gesture is customizable, too, so you can change the gesture patterns. For example, if you want "up, right" to move to the next tab, you can do that.

The built-in fullscreen mode is, truth be told, my personal favorite feature. On mobile, every pixel counts, and true fullscreen mode allows you to take advantage of every last one. Combine that with the ability to navigate the browser with gestures, and you never really need to see any of the browser's interface to browse the web.

Apps

Mozilla recently announced Marketplace, Mozilla's answer to Google's Web Store. The Marketplace is still in "Aurora" phase, meaning it's a step beyond beta, and therefore a bit unstable. In my testing, though, it's ready for action.

Apps on the Marketplace are pure web apps, meaning they're built solely on web technologies like HTML5 and javascript. Installing an app on your Android device puts a shortcut to the app on your homescreen.

Tapping on the icon, of course, pulls up the app, which looks, feels, and acts like a native app, complete with its own settings.

Reading List

I've saved what I believe to be the best for last: Firefox's built-in decluttering machine. Apple included this functionality for Safari on the Mac awhile back, but, to my knowledge, Firefox is the first to put it in a mobile browser.

So what is it? Essentially, it's a built-in Instapaper, Readability, Pocket, et al. When you get to a web page that's a bit too cluttered to read, just click on the book symbol in Firefox's address bar. Firefox will strip all the clutter, and present the article in a clean, readable view:

Tap once anywhere on the page to bring up the options, where you can add the article to your reading list, change font options and background, share the article, or view your reading list.

Firefox has quite a few more things going for it, like theming and sync, but these are, in my opinion, the three that make it stand out from the crowd.

Chrome is dominant on Android for a reason- it's a solid, fast mobile browser. If you're looking for some change, though, or just want more control over your mobile browsing experience, check out Firefox on the Play Store.

It should be noted that Firefox Beta is pictured in all the screenshots above.

Firefox for Android | Firefox Beta for Android

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