Fire up Firefox Mobile on the Nokia N900

N900 firefox

This January, Mozilla released Firefox Mobile for the Nokia N900. We took a peek at version 1.0 and found a browser worth talking about.

So what’s the big deal you may ask. Well, if you’ve ever tried browsing the web using your cell phone, you probably noticed that it doesn’t work superbly in all situations.

This is one of the major differences with Firefox Mobile. Because it uses the same browser engine as the desktop version of Firefox 3.6, it’s likely to work on most websites you want to visit.

We took Firefox Mobile on the Nokia N900 for a test drive. We found the UI to be clean and fresh, with touch optimized buttons and icons adapted for finger press. In addition, it has a tasteful color scheme.

To zoom in on a web page, simply double click on the screen. On the Nokia N900, Firefox Mobile renders images and fonts beautifully on the page.

n900_firefox_loc.jpg

HIGHLIGHTS

Spell Checker

A convenient option. How many times have you entered incorrect text in a form and wished you had spell checking on your cell phone? Now you do.

Location Awareness

As you see in the screenshot on the right, the location awareness can be disabled by the user if they do not want to reveal their location. The feature worked flawlessly in our tests.

Firefox 3.6 Engine

Using the same browser engine as a desktop computer should provide a superior website compatibility. We had no problems when browsing websites, with the exception of sites using Flash content.

Release 1.0 did not include Flash support.

HTML5, CSS and JavaScript

Yes, it’s based on web standards. Nothing much to add — it’s great, and all mobile web browsers should support these.

Weave Sync

Weave Sync for desktop Firefox

This is a new feature entirely. Weave Sync allows you to synchronize tabs, bookmarks, browsing history and passwords between your desktop computer and your N900. The installation is a three-step process:

  1. Install the Weave Sync add-on on your desktop Firefox, restart and sign-up for an account.
  2. Install the Weave Sync add-on on your N900.
  3. Press the ‘Sync Now’ button

Really simple. We tried it on an N900 and a MacBook and the sign-in process went smoothly on both devices.

Weave Sync is a fantastic option, and we look forward to more functionality added in the future. One other point worth noting — data is stored in an encrypted format on the Mozilla server to provide users greater protection.

Wish List

One can always ask for more speed. Even though the N900 is a very fast device, we think there might be room for some speed improvements to version 1.0 of Firefox Mobile.

Mail or sharing integration could be improved. Even though there are add-ons that handle this, it would be nice to have such functionality ‘out of the box’.

Additionally, Flash support would be great to have in a forthcoming release (whilst the world debates over HTML5 and Flash, there are still many webpages using Flash).

Conclusion

Touch optimized UI

This is the way to go! Anyone having suffered with the poor browsing experience on other cell phones will be very impressed with the browsing experience on Firefox Mobile for the N900. The pre-installed browser in the Nokia N900 is also quite good (and supports Flash) but Firefox Mobile has some additional benefits.

With several strong factors such as a browser engine like Firefox 3.6, HTML5 and Weave Sync, Firefox Mobile is customized for touch screen devices in a powerful manner.

It addresses several of the challenges you have most likely experienced when using multiple computers (missing your bookmarks on your work computer for example, or inability to view your bank portal to transfer money on the go).

So, if you have an Nokia N900, give it a try. You can read more at Mozilla or directly from your N900.