Firefox offers glimpse of new tablet version

Slab-size Fennec looking worthy of a good fondle

The chaps at Mozilla are showing off how well Firefox will work on a tablet computer, with new interface elements aping Honeycomb – but still no launch schedule.

Firefox already has an Android version, and very nice it is too, but the emphasis of Firefox Mobile (which was known as Fennec during development) was always on keeping the screen clear. For the tablet version that is not so important, allowing the team to show off what they can do with a little more space.

Tabs, for example, remain constantly on screen when in landscape view and drop down from the top in portrait, as opposed to sliding in from the left as they do on a mobile phone.

The thinking behind the tablet version of Firefox is demonstrated in this slideset compiled by Madhava Enros and Brian Dils which shows how Mozilla sees the disparity between computing platforms – from smartphone to desktop computer.

It's surely good to have competitive pressure pushing innovation in browser design. On the desktop, web browsers present an almost perfect lesson in the advantages of healthy competition: a single dominant browser fails to innovate until pushed into it.

On the desktop it was Mozilla (arguably) that pushed Microsoft into improving IE, just as Microsoft pushed Netscape (perhaps too hard), but in mobile browsing there are still a raft of options – including Dolphin, Bolt, SkyFire and Opera – all competing for mobile eyeballs with their own take on what makes the perfect mobile browsing experience.

Firefox Mobile doesn't yet support Adobe Flash content, though the team are working on it, but it does synchronise with its desktop equivalent and it also has some interesting UI approaches, which make it worth keeping an eye on. ®

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