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Firefox 4 Beta 2 for Android, Maemo Released

Thursday Mozilla's Stuart Parmenter said via The Mozilla Blog that a new version of Firefox 4 Beta (4.0b2) for mobile was available to download for Android and Maemo devices, boasting a sleeker interface and increased performance. The company also addressed the app's overall size, decreasing the install size from around 43 MB (as seen with Beta 1) to the current Beta 2's somewhat meager 17 MB.

"We received a lot of great feedback on the previous beta and addressed many of the issues reported, including reduced memory usage, improved text rendering and a 60-percent install size reduction on Android," Parmenter said. "There is still room for improvement and we’ll continue to make the install size smaller."

Parmenter added that panning and zooming are now much faster than the previous beta, and page load times are 40-percent quicker than before. Using Android 2.2 (Froyo), the beta is around 25-percent faster on the SunSpider Javascript benchmark than the stock Android browser.

"A few new things you’ll see in this release include a new theme that gives Firefox a fresh new look, the ability to easily share links with your friends from the Site Menu and the ability to undo closing a tab," Parmenter added.

Currently users can provide feedback within Beta 2 by hitting the new "Feedback" button in the Browser Controls panel. Although the browser is admittedly more stable than the last release (only one crash thus far), Mozilla has made bug tracking somewhat easier this time around by borrowing the desktop version's easy-to-submit crash reporting.

On a hands-on level, there's a definite improvement with Firefox 4 Beta 2 than experienced with the original release. As previously mentioned, the browser appears more stable, however on the Motorola DROID it still lags behind the stock browser in sheer performance. There also seems to be an issue while rendering the virtual keyboard within the browser--at times entering text can be painfully slow.

The new Firefox 4 Beta can also amass a wad of data rather quickly, however the browser supports Move to SD so the space consumption isn't really an issue. Once transferred, the browser's Application Info reads that it's only consuming 104 KB of space after all data has been cleared--not too shabby given that Google Earth and Adobe's Flash and Air apps are horrendous storage hogs.

According to Mozilla, hardware acceleration and HTML5 video support will be implemented into the next Firefox 4 Beta release.