Native Android GUI developing for Firefox
Johnathan Nightingale, Mozilla's Director of Firefox Engineering, has announced that the developers in the mobile platforms team are planning on improving the performance of the Android version of Firefox by implementing a native user interface (UI). The current user interface for all versions of Firefox is a cross-platform implementation written in XUL, an XML-based language that is interpreted by the Gecko rendering engine. This means that Firefox versions for new platforms require only Gecko to be ported, but not the GUI.
However, Nightingale explained, XUL has a number of disadvantages: starting up the XUL interface takes much longer than presenting a native UI and that Firefox requires "several seconds" to start on some smartphones. A native UI also requires less memory than XUL, according to Nightingale, and is significantly faster and more responsive when, for example, zooming in on a web page or image.
Work on the native Android UI for Firefox has already begun, but it is currently unclear how long its development will take. Versions 8 and 9 will continue to ship with the XUL UI while development work takes place on the native UI.