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16 May 2012, 15:30

Firefox 14 beta for Android released

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Zoom The new home screen of Firefox 14 beta for Android

Mozilla has released a beta of Firefox 14 for Android that includes many changes to the user interface along with new features like plugin support and hardware acceleration.

With the Kilimanjaro milestone, Mozilla aims to unify the UI across many of their products, including the desktop and mobile versions of Firefox; the new Android version is a significant step towards achieving this goal. It also uses Android's native UI elements, an update that Mozilla has been planning to deliver for quite some time. The new "Awesome Screen" in Firefox 14 duplicates the functionality of the "Awesome Bar" from the desktop version using a screen that appears when users touch the URL field of the browser – this screen shows users their most visited and recently opened pages.

Other features introduced in the beta include support for plugins like Adobe's Flash player which includes touch-to-play functionality by default. This means Flash elements on pages will only appear once a user has touched them. According to Mozilla, this is supposed to speed up page rendering. The Firefox beta is also able to use hardware acceleration on most devices, which speeds things up even further where loading of compute-intensive web applications like games is involved. Additionally, the mobile version of Firefox also uses the SSL-encrypted version of Google's search by default.

Since the release carries the beta label, it still includes several known bugs. Details about these can be found in the official release notes. Mozilla hopes that users will help test the beta release and report any bugs they find. Alternatively, users can choose the latest stable version of Firefox for Android – 10.0.4 – which can also be downloaded from Google's Play store.

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