Tuesday, 15 May 2012
Firefox for Android wins Flash, loses sidebar
Flash outdated? Most artists have sites that require Flash, and if you try to check restaurant opening hours or book a table you'll find that nine out of ten restaurant sites don't work if your browser can't handle Flash.
The good news: after Dolphin, the stock browser, and many other Android browsers, the latest beta test version of Firefox does Flash too.
The bad news: the sidebars are gone. Maybe they looked to much like the Dolphin sidebars? Your tabs are now in a pulldown menu next to the address bar. A side effect of this is that the address bar is always visible, which is not a good idea for a browser that's meant to work on small screens where every pixel counts.
Text rendering sometimes goes wrong and the double tap to zoom option is erratic on many pages since the update from beta 13 to beta 14. Sometimes it works, but when it doesn't work pinch to zoom is the only way to resize. Doesn't sound like a big deal until you try to pinch while your other hand is busy holding your bag or your girlfriend. And your pinches don't hold: if you return to a resized page with the back button you'll have to resize it again. Firefox won't remember your zoom level, not even during a single browsing session.
Update: Most of these problems are fixed in Firefox Beta 15.
Firefox Beta 14 comes with a new start screen, which resembles the start screens of other mobile browsers. But where the default start screens of browsers like Dolphin are optional, the new Firefox start screen is not. Gone is the option of launching Firefox straight into your own custom homepage. The new Firefox always launches with its new start screen whether you like it or not.
Scrolling doesn't always work well, especially on pages with frames. If a page has iframes you won't be able to scroll outside the iframe, which makes large parts of the page totally inaccessible. Now don't counter that iframes are ancient history, because there's an entire internet full of interesting sites that still use them and many of them will never switch to style sheets.
There are lots of things to fix in the next beta. Flash in Beta 14 works pretty good, but I'll keep Firefox Beta 13 from my Titanium backup until the new bugs are dead (edit: many of them are fixed in Firefox Beta 15) and the forced start screen goes away. Not that I'm gonna miss much, because I usually surf with Dolphin HD. I only use Firefox for Android for its save to PDF feature, which works better than in any other Android browser. Firefox is my favourite browser on my notebooks and desktops, but its Android version is no match for Dolphin, Boat Browser, Maxthon, Opera, or even for the stock browser.
Bonus tip: if you use Flash in Firefox you may want to edit your Flash privacy and security settings.
• Firefox Beta
• Dolphin HD
Labels: web browsers