Mozilla overhauled its Firefox for Android in the latest update – dubbed 'Firefox Daylight.' The newest version of the browser was released on Tuesday in Europe and featured a range of improvements including faster launch speed, better privacy and new interface.
The company called the release of Firefox Daylight as a "new beginning for our Android browser." Firefox on Android's new version will be available in North America from August 27.
Runs on Mozilla's GeckoView
The latest version of Firefox on Android runs on Mozilla's web engine GeckoView – making the browser stand out from its competitors such as Brave, Microsoft's Edge and Chrome, all three of which are developed on Google's Blink for Android smartphones.
"This [GeckoView] allows us to have complete freedom of choice when it comes to implementation of standards and features. This independence lets us create a user interface that when combined with an overall faster browsing pace, enables unprecedented performance," Mozilla said.
Other features of the browser's newest version included better privacy owing to Mozilla's Enhanced Tracking Protection, which will block ad trackers from following users' online behavior. Apart from this, users can switch to stricter protections for more privacy.
Firefox Daylight also allows easier access to private mode on the browser's home-screen and the users can choose to create a private browsing shortcut on their phone's home-screen. Another feature included Tab collections, in which users can organize a set of tabs into a group and can open in bulk.
Firefox Daylight also focused on extensions or add-ons, which are widely used on desktop but are not available on a mobile browser. With the latest update, the browser featured nine add-ons from Mozilla's Recommended Extensions program – uBlock Origin, Dark Reader, Privacy Badger, HTTPS Everywhere, NoScript Security Suite, Decentraleyes, Search by Image, YouTube High Definition, and Privacy Possum.
"We know that add-ons play an important role for many Firefox users and we want to make sure to offer them the best possible experience when starting to use our newest Android browsing app," the company said.
The latest update comes at a time when the coronavirus pandemic hit Mozilla hard. Earlier this month, the company announced it would lay off 250 employees and stop its operations in Taiwan.
It remains to be seen if Firefox will attract newer users following the slew of improvements in Firefox Daylight. While the desktop user share of Firefox was nearly nine percent worldwide in July 2020, its mobile user share was only 0.48 percent. This places Firefox far behind the dominant browser Chrome that held 64 percent of mobile user share and 69 percent desktop user share. Google's browser has an edge over Firefox because it is pre-installed in Android smartphones.
However, with increased awareness over online privacy, people have been switching to Firefox and Brave browsers. There has been a dedicated following to these two browsers that offered better privacy than Chrome, which is known to track users' every movement once they log in to the browser.