Firefox on lower-end Android phones

Mozilla offers his mobile browser – codenamed Fennec – to the Android platform for quite some time now. And it’s pretty convenient : through the use of Mozilla Sync – formerly known as Weave – you could access your desktop’s history from your phone. Quite handy.

But only for those of us who own higher-end phones. Specifically those running on ARMv7 hardware. A lot of lower-end phones – not to mention mine, Geeksphone Zero – sport an older revision of the ARM CPUs : ARMv6. For most Android apps, there’s no difference, since they’re provided as Dalvik bytecode.

Now enters some software engineering tricks like Just-in-time compilers. Those things are really good at getting code to run faster : they transform higher-lever code to native code on the go, opening to way to near-native speeds. But apps using these kind of trick – and Mozilla does for its Javascript engine – now depend on the hardware architecture. And thus Mozilla had to provide separate builds for ARMv6 and ARMv7, and the former have been failing so much they didn’t even bothered to build them.

But there is hope again. As stated on the related bug-report, some guys managed to fix all issues preventing the build. It doesn’t mean the resulting application is perfect, nor even useable, but they’ll be able to provide nightly build on this platform as well. So we can expect improving quality of those over time.

If you wanna test it – already did, and it’s works considerably better than « not at all » – there’s a build here: https://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/mozilla.org/firefox/try-builds/mh@glandium.org-a3d9309084af/try-android/fennec-13.0a1.en-US.android-arm.apk

And if you don’t want to type that on your tiny phone’s keyboard, here’s a QR-code to scan :

For more information, please go to the semi-official announcement : http://blog.mozilla.com/ted/2012/02/17/firefox-mobile-on-armv6-processors-2/

 

 

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