announced a change in how software can run on Android, the company's mobile operating system which powers such devices as T-Mobile's G1 and the upcoming MyTouch 3G. Instead of just allowing Java applications that run on Google's Dalvik virtual machine, Android will now allow software that runs natively in on the Linux operating system itself. This will be made possible through a new toolset for developers, the Android Native Development Kit. The change may allow Mozilla to bring their young mobile browser, Fennec (aka "Firefox Mobile") to the Android platform.Last week, Google
Mobile is one platform that Mozilla has yet to conquer. Only recently, a second alpha version of Fennec was made available for Windows Mobile devices (version 6 and up). If the Android NDK provides the proper capabilities for bringing the mobile version of Firefox to Android, that would only be the second mobile platform that Fennec supports.
According to a report from CNET, Mozilla is considering the possibilities. "I think our community would be interested in doing it, because Android will be appearing on more smartphones with the capabilities to provide a good browsing experience," said Jay Sullivan, Mozilla's vice president of mobile.
The only question now is whether or not Fennec will ever have a shot at becoming a popular mobile browser. Although development is moving along at a reasonable pace, it's certainly had its setbacks along the way...and it's nowhere near a version 1.0 yet. Meanwhile, WebKit is taking the lead when it comes to browsers on many of today's hottest smartphone platforms. The open-source WebKit code currently powers a lot of the newest browsers on the market including the one that ships on Android, iPhone's Safari browser, and the browser on the Palm Pre. Where does that leave Fennec? Apparently, it leaves it competing against Opera, which already has a solid foothold on the other mobile platforms lacking a decent mobile browser - Opera even became the top mobile browser recently.
Hopefully with the new NDK from Google, Fennec will be able to make its way onto at least one of the top smarthphone platforms out there. But we wonder: will anyone care when it arrives?