Firefox for Android: Nightly Channel Switches to Native UI Builds

We have been talking a lot recently about the new native UI version of Firefox for Android. Built using native Android UI widgets, packed with major speed improvements and large memory reductions. We have not been working on the project very long, but we have been making solid progress. We decided it’s time to move the native builds into our nightly delivery channel.

The nightly channel is a snapshot of our very latest development work, before it is ready for widespread testing. This is our least stable update channel, and is not recommended for most users. Nightly will offer to update itself automatically, once a day, with the latest changes. If you have a nightly Firefox installed on your Android device, when it updates on November 23rd, you’ll be running the new native UI build.

The XUL-based version of Firefox had several years of development and the nightly builds have a relatively high level of stability. The new native UI builds are not that mature and you will find some OMGWTFBBQ flaws. We have a quick summary of known issues on the Nightly download page. I’ll call out a few of the big ones here:

  • Sync is not supported yet: Sync is also being refactored for the move to native and isn’t ready yet.
  • Panning and zooming have issues: Pages layout too wide for phones and zooming results in fuzzy content. These are our highest priority items and we are landing improvements everyday.
  • Tablet UI is not ready: We are focused on phones and the tablet UI has not caught up. Tablet UI is not a high priority for the native UI project since we can fallback to shipping the XUL-based version on tablets until we have a solid native tablet UI.
  • Bookmarks and History are saved to the system storage: We save bookmarks and history in the same storage that the stock Android browser uses. It provides tighter integration, but does mean the data is not locked away in a Firefox-only location. Passwords and other data are stored in a Firefox-only location.

If any of these issues make you uncomfortable or you are worried about the changes in stability, we urge you to move to the more stable Aurora channel. The Aurora channel is still the XUL-based Firefox you have been using.

We certainly hope you give the new nightly a chance and help us improve the quality and stability by filing bugs.

Note: If you have been using the native UI builds, especially on a tablet, we recommend uninstalling and re-installing the current nightly.

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