Dec 22, 2011
Firefox has updated their browser app for Android to version 9.0, to bring it in line with their desktop version of the browser. While there are general fixes for bugs and faster start up times, this update brings two key new features to the Firefox experience on Android.
First, is support for tablets. While the app did run on tablets before, some UI elements were smaller than they should have been on the tablet screen. Now, all elements are properly scaled and displayed on higher-resolution screens. A new tab bar is on the left in landscape mode, allowing for easy switching between tabs. While some issues still persist with issues like WordPress editing buttons not working (though WordPress has worked weird with pretty much any mobile web browser), this is a very capable alternative to the default Android browser that is currently available.
More importantly, this Firefox version has the ability for web sites to access the cameras on Android devices. This could allow for sites to offer augmented reality functionality on their websites, use user photographs and even possibly offer video chat from directly within the browser. While this function is limited at present, and no known websites offer it, this is a big step for the “web is better” crowd that wants to split away from the dependence on native apps that currently permeates mobile.
In particular, this push for tablet interfaces shows how important Android tablets are to top developers; having support for them is something that they want to be on top of as the market for tablets starts to expand. As more tablet devices start to hit the market, developers clearly want to have apps that will run properly on these devices as they increase in popularity. Firefox 9 for Android is available now from the Android Market.