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21 December 2011, 11:59

Firefox for Android adds new tablet UI

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Firefox logo Mozilla has updated its open source mobile browser, Firefox for Android, to version 9.0. The most notable change in the release is the addition of a new user interface (UI) for Android tablets that the developers say "makes mobile browsing more intuitive" and takes better advantage of large screens, whether in portrait or landscape orientation.

The completely redesigned UI experience for tablets adds a new Action Bar menu that provides access to, for example, preferences, Add-ons and downloads. Browser tabs are displayed on the left panel with thumbnails, allowing users to quickly switch between tabs while still viewing the active web page on the right; for a fullscreen view, users can swipe to the left to hide the tabs. With Firefox Sync, users can synchronise Firefox on their desktop with the mobile app and access their browsing history, passwords and bookmarks, as well as open tabs. When users click the Awesome Bar to enter a URL, the "Awesome Screen" is displayed for quick access to the history, bookmarks and desktop tabs.

Zoom Version 9 of Firefox for Android in action on an Android tablet
For developers, several new HTML5 technologies are now supported in the app. The HTML5 Input Tag for Camera Access lets developers create sites and web apps that can use the built-in camera on an Android device to take pictures or scan barcodes from within Firefox. To validate form fields without having to create custom code, developers can use the HTML5 Form Validation API to automatically check fields like numbers, email addresses or URLs.

More details about the update, including a full list of known issues, can be found in the release notes and on the mobile features page. Version 9.0 of Firefox for Android is available to download from the Android Market and requires Android 2.0 or later; a list of supported devices is provided on the Mozilla web site.

Like its desktop counterpart, Firefox for Android binaries are released under the Mozilla Firefox End-User Software License Agreement and the source code is released under disjunctive tri-licensing that includes the Mozilla Public License, GPLv2 and LGPLv2.1.

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