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Firefox 4 beta 3 for Android hands on: Mozilla browser hits the Market

Mozilla has released a new beta of Firefox 4 for Android and Maemo to keep the mobile browser in step with its desktop cousin, and it packs a number of important improvements. Perhaps the most noticeable one on Android is that you can now find Firefox in the Market, meaning future updates will be a smoother process -- just make sure you uninstall any previous beta versions before downloading from the Market.

So what's new in Firefox 4 beta 3?
  • Improved support for both software and hardware keyboards
  • Android-style menus
  • Better integration with other apps when opening a link
  • A save page-as-PDF option
  • Improved Firefox Sync with new 'add a device' feature
  • Full screen video and improved audio support
  • Copy and paste support in the URL bar
  • Developer access to a localStorage API and orientation events
After browsing for a while with beta 3, I'm definitely left feeling it's faster than the previous non-Market release. Some pages, however, still load about 30-40% slower than they do in Dolphin Mini (my current browser of choice). The new features are definitely key additions -- especially basics like keyboard support and copy/paste in the URL bar. Firefox Sync setup is an absolute breeze now, thanks to the 'add a device' option in both the desktop and mobile versions.

Firefox 4 is also a bit of a space hog, currently consuming about 21MB -- ten times more than Dolphin Mini. And while I dig the desktop-to-mobile Firefox 4 synchronicity, I'm not sure it's enough to make me switch just yet. If I start doing more mobile surfing (which would make Sync more useful to me) and Mozilla kicks up the speed and trims a little fat, Firefox 4 will definitely be a strong contender for the coveted default browser crown.

Check out the gallery, or if you want to jump right in, use the QR code after the break. For more information, release notes and troubleshooting tips, check the Firefox Beta for Mobile website.

Firefox 4 beta 3 for Android

Tags: android, apps, beta, browser, browsers, firefox, gallery, hands-on, mobile, mozilla, web