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Fennec comes to Android

The fox goes robotic

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Firefox's little cousin is now on Android, showing what an alternative browser can do for Google's platform.

Fennec is the mobile version of Firefox, the free browser from Mozilla. Fennec has been in beta for the Nokia N900 since the end of January, but now an early version has been made available for Android handsets. Though not quite ready for daily use, the build does show potential.

As the video shows Fennec will happily switch orientation and allow the user to navigate between multiple tabs, all with breathtaking slowness. There's still a lot of optimisation to be done.

But most interesting is the option to customise the experience though the addition of Add Ons - and the use of synchronised tabs, allowing continuity of browsing from desktop to mobile.

It used to be that mobile browsers competed on offering the best replication of the desktop experience, but these days it's interface elements and speed that differentiate the range of options.

Windows Mobile has been the platform of choice for those options, spurred on by the appalling pocket-IE experience browsers, such as Bolt and Skyfire, with Opera Mobile as the benchmark. But now that Windows Mobile is being killed off those browsers will be looking for somewhere to make a difference. Skyfire is already available for Symbian, while Bolt offers a Blackberry version, but we'll probably see both ported to Android soon.

Earlier this month Opera announced its Mini browser on Android, so Android users already have at least one alternative. Fennec has the distinct advantage of not needing a revenue stream - the Mozilla Foundation operates as a non-profit charity - but it's still going to need a lot of work and some huge performance improvements before it's ready to take on the opposition. ®

Update: Interested Android owners can find a download link at XDA Developers.

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