Firefox for Android: What’s New in v35

The latest release of Firefox for Android is filled with new features, designed to work with the way you use your mobile device.

Search

Search is the most common reason people use a browser on mobile devices. To help make it easier to search using Firefox, we created the standalone Search application. We have put the features of Firefox’s search system into an activity that can more easily be accessed. You no longer need to launch the full browser to start a search.

When you want to start a search, use the new Firefox Widget from the Android home screen, or use the “swipe up” gesture on the Android home button, which is available on devices with software home buttons.

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Once started, just start typing your search. You’ll see your search history, and get search suggestions as you type.

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The search results are displayed in the same activity, but tapping on any of the results will load the page in Firefox.

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Your search history is shared between the Search and Firefox applications. You have access to the same search engines as in Firefox itself. Switching search engines is easy.

Sharing

Another cool feature is the Sharing overlay. This feature grew out of the desire to make Firefox work with the way you use mobile devices. Instead of forcing you to switch away from applications when sharing, Firefox gives you a simple overlay with some sharing actions, without leaving the current application.

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You can add the link to your bookmarks or reading list. You can also send the link to a different device, via Firefox Sync. Once the action is complete, you’re back in the application. If you want to open the link, you can tap the Firefox logo to open the link in Firefox itself.

Synced Tabs

Firefox Sync makes it easy to access your Firefox data across your different devices, including getting to the browser tabs you have open elsewhere. We have a new Synced Tabs panel available in the Home page that lets you easily access open tabs on other devices, making it simple to pick up where you left off.

Long-tap an item to easily add a bookmark or share to another application. You can expand/collapse the device lists to manage the view. You can even long-tap a device and hide it so you won’t see it again!

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Improved Error Pages

No one is happy when an error page appears, but in the latest version of Firefox the error pages try to be a bit more helpful. The page will look for WiFi problems and also allow you to quickly search for a problematic address.

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5 Replies to “Firefox for Android: What’s New in v35”

  1. How does sharing work? When I click the share button in the browser I get a popup with a list of apps, not the notification panel you show.

  2. @Brian: In the list of apps you saw, you have to choose “Add to Firefox”. I didn’t notice this either until now.

    @Mark:
    1. I did’t find the new search tool particularly useful, especially after already having uninstalled the Google app. Luckily, on a rooted phone, it is easy enough to turn the navigation ring off entirely (e.g. via Gravity Box). However, for everyone without a rooted phone, a check box within Firefox might be a good idea for turning this on and off, since the navigation ring sometimes springs into action unwanted (like tapping on the home button, realizing that you actually did not want to go to the home screen, then dragging upward to avoid going to the home screen). [I realize I am a singular data point here and given how many people probably use Google Now, I may be an outlier.]

    2. By checking the user agent, I noticed that the search tool uses a WebView instead of the Mozilla engine. I see how that would make the tool faster, but it probably won’t help Mozilla’s visible marketshare (at affiliated search engines). Isn’t that an issue?

  3. @Braenburn
    #1 – Unlike Google’s Search app, which is installed by default, Firefox’s Search app is part of Firefox itself, and uses a lot of Firefox for support. We can look into being able to turn off the “search assist” feature which controls the swipe-up gesture, but I think it’s set via the AndroidManifest and is not easily toggled.
    #2 – As we make GeckoView work better for embedding, we’ll likely move away from WebView and use our own GeckoView. Until we fix some issues, we’ll need to continue using a WebView though. As for marketshare, only the search result list shows in the WebView. Tapping any result will open in Firefox. Shouldn’t be a big deal.

  4. @Brian – As Caspy7 and Braenburn already said, This is primarily used from outside Firefox and is initiated via “Add to Firefox” from the sharing list.

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