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Mozilla spits out 'pre-alpha' Fennec for Android

Fox on the robot

Mozilla has released a "pre-alpha" version of its mobile Firefox browser for Google's Android operating system.

Previously, an even earlier build was available through back channels, but Mozilla is now offering a build that's "usable by a broader set of people."

With a blog post, Mozilla developer Vladimir Vukićević says that the "Fennec" pre-alpha has been tested on the Motorola Droid and Google's own Nexus One, a phone that looks to be on its death bed. The pre-alpha requires Android 2.0 or above and likely OpenGL ES 2.0 as well.

You can download the build here. Vukićević warns that memory usage "isn't great. In many ways it's a debug build, and we haven't really done a lot of optimization yet. This could cause some problems with large pages, especially on low memory devices like the Droid." He also says you can't yet open links from other apps.

Vukićević and crew have created a temporary Google Group where you can leave feedback on the build.

Mozilla has also released an experimental version of Weave Sync that's compatible with this Fennec on Android pre-alpha. Weave synchronizes bookmarks and other Firefox settings across multiple devices. To use the Android-friendly experimental version, go to mozillalabs.com/weave/ and select, well, "Experimental version."

At the end of January, Mozilla released the first official mobile Firefox - codenamed "Fennec" - for Nokia's Maemo platform. It has also tested an alpha version for Windows Mobile, but Windows Mobile is definitely on its way out. Mozilla has now stopped development on Fennec for Windows Mobile, and since Microsoft is not providing a native development kit for Windows Phone 7, the open source outfit has no plans to build a browser for Redmond's newer mobile OS either.

Likewise, Mozilla has no intention of building a version for the iPhone, saying it doesn't want to go where it's not wanted. ®

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