Mozilla has just released Firefox 9.0 for both the desktop and for Android devices. Besides being faster, less prone to crashes, and the things you’d usually associate with newer versions of browsers, what makes 9.0 special is that it finally supports tablets. The key question on our minds is of course what’s so special about Firefox that we’d want to use it over the browser that’s already bundled with Android? To tell you the truth, that’s a hard one to answer. There’s Firefox Sync, which can let you access your history, open tabs, and bookmarks from any device, but is that feature worth the performance hit? Right now the only Android tablets out on the market run either Android 3.0 Honeycomb or they take Android 2.3 Gingerbread and blow it up. Neither solution has proven to be a hit with consumers, and with the recent release of Ice Cream Sandwich everyone who wants a tablet that’s not an iPad is most certainly doing the right thing by waiting to see what comes out.
This brings up yet another question, will anyone ever be able to release a browser that utilizes a better engine than the one that’s built-on or are consumers “trapped” with whatever platform vendors provide? Take iOS and Windows Phone for instance. You can create a new “browser”, but it’s nothing more than a custom theme that uses the browser engine already provided to end users. Android is more flexible in that respect, but no one has come up with a browser better than what the developers at Google could come up with. That argument is likely irrelevant for those of you who think that apps are the future and that content delivery via HTML is on the decline, but it’s still a serious question.
Do you use a third party browser? If so, why?