Firefox for Android will soon arrive on devices with a brand new user interface, one that should make it faster and more responsive, and the team of developers behind it has made great progress in the area.The main reason behind re-implementing Fennec’s UI using Android’s native platform was to ensure that users benefit from a better experience by enjoying faster start-up times and increased performance levels.
To achieve that, the team will “move Gecko and XUL out of Firefox’s startup path on Android,” which enables the UI to respond to user interaction almost immediately, while the two load in the background, running on a separate thread.
Gecko and the native UI will communicate with one-another through a simple message system, which also means that Electrolysis will be replaced with a lighter architecture aimed at delivering similar benefits.
“We’re landing the new code on a separate repository called “birch” which will eventually be merged in mozilla-central,” Lucas Rocha explains in a recent blog post.
“Large parts of the primary browser UI have already been implemented - AwesomeBar, tabs, bookmarking, notification popups, addons manager, preferences, context menus, and more.
“We also have a new panning/zooming implementation that is extremely fast and smooth. The design team is bringing a new phone UI for Firefox that is both beautiful and simpler. The new design is part of a wider effort to streamline the Firefox UX on all platforms, desktop and mobile.”
However, there is still a long road ahead towards the release of a stable, feature-complete flavor of the mobile browser, and the development team is aware of that.
“If you want to help us with feedback and testing, install the native UI’s nightly build on your Android phone,” Lucas Rocha continues.
Those who do not have an Android device but would like to participate can have a look at Mozilla's Test Drivers program page to learn more on how they could receive one.
All these are aimed at making Firefox the most appealing mobile browser on Android, and things are moving fast in this direction, it seems. Even so, the new UI will arrive on Firefox on next year.