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Mobile Firefox Prototype Arrives

The mobile version of the Firefox browser is now available for download in the form of an early prototype. This download of the browser, code-named “Fennec,” is only intended for developers as it is still in the pre-alpha stages. It is also only recommended for Nokia N810 devices. Even so, the browser already shows a lot of promise.

A very early snapshot of the Fennec browser, which is based off of post-Firefox 3 beta 4 source code, has been made available from this page. If you click that link (http://people.mozilla.org/~vladimir/fennec.install) from your Nokia N810 browser, you will be prompted to install the Fennec browser, which will be placed into your phone’s “Extras” category.

Despite it being very early in the testing stages, the Fennec browser is already showing major performance gains. In the chart below, found on Mozilla technical evangelist Chirs Blizzard’s blog, the blue bar is the “MicroB browser,” which is the Mozilla-based browser based on source code from around the Firefox Alpha 1 timeframe that Nokia included with their OS2008 release. The red bar is Fennec. The chart shows that Fennec is 5.9x faster than the earlier Mozilla version!

Although Firefox enthusiasts may be tempted to try out Fennec now, they should be warned that much of the new browser’s functionality isn’t seen via the UI just yet – it’s all very much still “under the hood.”

However, this quick peek is enough to get us excited about Firefox Mobile and the features it plans to include in the future, like support for add-ons, support for web applications, an AwesomeBar, one-click bookmarking, and inertial scrolling – the last two of which are currently available in the Fennec browser. We only hope we don’t have to wait too long before a solid beta is available.

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