Mozilla’s new mobile browser for Android, Firefox 79, has been released. Users of the classic browser will be upgraded to the new version automatically over the coming weeks, and new users may install the new stable version of the browser soon from Google Play and other sources.
Firefox 79 is a redesigned version of Firefox for Android that shares many of the features of the classic version but not all of them. Migrations include important bits of data such as the bookmarks, open tabs, or saved passwords if no master password is set.
With any new browser release, it is a good idea to go through the settings at least once to make sure everything is set up correctly. The following tips and tricks help you make educated decisions about some of the features and settings of Firefox 79 for Android.
Tip 1: Search Engines
Custom search engines are not migrated when classic Firefox is upgraded to the new version. Users who have used non-standard search engines in Firefox, e.g. Startpage search, need to add these again to the browser.
A tap on Menu > Settings > Search opens the configuration. Select “add search engine” on the page that opens a selection of additional search engines and an option to add a custom search engine.
The process of adding a custom search engine is quite cumbersome as you need to supply the full search URL of the desired search engine plus the placeholder for the search query; this may work okay on desktop devices but is not user friendly at all on mobile devices.
Firefox does not appear to add search engines that you use to the list of engines that it displays automatically on that page.
Tip 2: Data Collection
Firefox 79 collects data by default and also shares some of the data with the customer engagement platform Leanplum.
Tap on Menu > Settings and select Data Collection on the page that opens to control the options that Mozilla provides. All three available options were enabled by default:
- Usage and technical data — “shares performance, usage, hardware and customisation data about your browser with Mozilla to help us make Firefox better”.
- Marketing data — “Shares data about what features you use in Firefox with Leanplum, our mobile marketing vendor”.
- Experiments — “Allows Mozilla to install and collect data for experimental features”.
For an organization so focused on privacy, it is problematic if users are not even informed about these settings in first place.
Tip 3: Add-ons
Firefox 79 supports nine add-ons at the time of writing that were handpicked by Mozilla. The organization promised that full add-on support will be introduced in a future version of Firefox for Android but for now, it is these nine extensions that Firefox for Android users may install.
The installation process is very straightforward as all of them are listed under Menu > Settings > Addons.
Each add-on is listed with its name, a short description, rating, and the current number of users (Android version only it appears).
To install an extension, tap on the plus icon, check the permissions that it requests, if any, and click on add to proceed. The extension is downloaded and installed, and you may enable it in private browsing mode as well.
The settings of extensions that we tested are identical to the desktop versions, and Mozilla picked several good ones including uBlock Origin, NoScript Security Suite, or Privacy Possum.
Nine is not a lot on the other hand, but it is definitely better than nothing.
Tip 4: Site Permissions
Autoplay blocking is enabled by default, which is good. If you don’t care about notifications, you may want to turn them off instead of keeping them at the “ask” setting.
Select Menu > Settings > Site Permissions, and then Notification. Switch from “ask to allow” to “blocked” to prevent any notification permission request.
Tip 5: Customize
The Customize settings page lists two of the new features of Firefox for Android. Use it to switch the theme to light or dark permanently, and to move the toolbar from the bottom to the top.
Other tips and information
- While on a site, tap Menu > Desktop site to request the desktop site.
- To use and configure installed add-ons, select Menu > Add-ons > Name of add-on, or Add-ons Manager.
- Select Menu > Add to top sites, to add the current site to the New Tab page’s top sites listing.
- Firefox Stable for Android does not allow you to use about:config.
- You can manage font sizes under Menu > Settings > Accessibility.
- Enhanced Tracking Protection is set to default. You may change that to strict or custom in the Settings.
Now You: What would you like to see in the new Firefox for Android?