Mozilla has recently decided that in order to improve Firefox for Android they need to dump XUL—otherwise known as eXtensible User interface Language, the language that’s currently used to develop a consistent Firefox look and feel across multiple platforms—and start using Google’s native Android interface widgets. This doesn’t mean that Mozilla is going to stop using their Gecko rendering engine that makes Firefox what it is, it just means that they’ll ditch their attempts at creating a consistent user interface in order to deliver users a better experience. Johnathan Nightingale, Director of Firefox Engineering, announced the decision on the mozilla.dev.platforms.mobile usenet group, saying the three major areas that should see drastic improvement are:
01: Startup – A native UI can be presented much faster than a XUL based UI, since it can happen in parallel with Gecko startup. This means startup times in fractions of a second, versus several seconds for a XUL UI on some phones.
02: Memory use – We believe a native UI will use significantly less memory
03: Responsiveness – A native UI has the potential for beautiful panning and zooming performance
Now you’re probably thinking awesome, when can I get my hands on this? Jonathan drops this bombshell:
It’s too early for us to determine when this work will be ready for users, but we are certain that it will not impact the versions currently on the Beta and Aurora channels. Firefox 8 and 9 will ship with the XUL UI, including the new UI for tablets, while we build the native UI.
Firefox for Android version 10 is the earliest possible release where we can expect to see Mozilla using Google’s native user interface elements. By the time that comes out, how much better will Opera for Android for get? How much better will Google’s own stock Android browser get?
This will be fun to watch.