Mozilla is reportedly working on a new mobile web browser for Android dubbed Firefox Fenix that will fundamentally change how users manage tabs.
According to information based on mockups and development versions of Fenix obtained by gHacks, Mozilla based the browser on Android Components and its GeckoView — a version of the Firefox Quantum engine packaged for Android.
However, that’s not what sets Fenix apart. Other browsers, like Firefox Focus, use GeckoView already.
What does set Fenix apart is its approach to tab management.
Most browsers manage tabs through ‘sessions’ measured by when you open and close the app. On desktop, users have an option to close tabs when they close a browsing session — I prefer this method — or maintain tabs across sessions.
On mobile, however, users don’t get this option. Tabs remain open, even if you start a new session by closing and opening the browser again.
Fenix hopes to change this by closing your session if you leave the app for more than five minutes. Plus, when it closes the session, the browser will bundle all the open tabs together so you can quickly reopen them if you need to.
Fenix also lets users manually save open sessions so they can return to them later.
When you open Fenix, it lists your current session, along with past sessions. There’s also a search bar so you can quickly look up something.
Additionally, users can delete or archive sessions from the list.
It also looks like Mozilla will implement a ‘session sharing’ feature that lets users send their browsing sessions to other users. This could be handy, say when shopping for something like furniture. You could send a session with some couches you like to your spouse or roommate to see if they want them as well.
As unique as Mozilla’s tab management idea is, users may not take to it. Some will prefer the current way browsers handle tabs. It’s not clear if Fenix will let users switch how it handles tabs.
That said, Fenix could help significantly reduce RAM usage in smartphones, which could make it a popular browser for low-end devices that don’t have lots to spare.
Update 03/13/2019: You can download and try out Fenix for yourself now. Techdows found the download link for the Fenix APK. However, it’s not on the Play Store, so you’ll need to enable installations from unknown sources on your device. Further, you’ll need to pick between the ‘aarch64,’ ‘arm’ and ‘x86’ versions, depending on your processor.
As with all APKs downloaded outside the Play Store, you should approach with caution as there is a security risk. In this case, the APK files are hosted on ‘Taskcluster,’ a Mozilla-made task management system. Since it’s a Mozilla website, it should be safe, but that’s no guarantee. Also, the browser is still in development so be prepared for bugs, crashes and other issues. If you want to give it a try, follow Techdows’ instructions to download and run the browser.