Living on Firefox Pt. 4: Chrome sweet Chrome

The mobile view of Firefox on my Samsung Captivate. Notice the text jumble at the top of the screen.

I had intended to use part 4 to spend a lot of time discussing the merits and demerits of Firefox for mobile android, but by Thursday morning, my enthusiasm for Mozilla’s web browser had evaporated. I pulled up Chrome, logged back in and relegated Firefox to viewing work email and documents (via Google apps).

See, while Firefox is a fine second fiddle on the desktop, it’s not terribly useful for mobile. If Chrome’s Desktop UI is twice what Firefox’s is, it’s mobile UI is 10 times better. Here, the comparison is just not good for Firefox.

First, the phone. Firefox on my phone just doesn’t work well. This isn’t all Firefox’s fault. My Samsung Captivate is a modest 1ghz single core machine with 512mb RAM. It’s a respectable phone that does phone things very well. Running feature rich browsers isn’t something it does well. Chrome bogs it down, too.

But on the Nexus 7, Chrome is way ahead. Where chrome has a desktop-like true tab layout, Firefox relies on a pull down tab drawer. This is handy for phones, but not needed on larger tablets. Chrome’s Copy and paste functionality is also really good. The newly designed pop-up bar for text editing is great. Chrome’s handling of syncing tabs is also much smoother.

I was entertaining the idea that I’d use Firefox on my mobile the way I use it on the desktop — an easy way to track work emails (I have a thing about using a client for work email. I just get too much and don’t want the hassle of local work mail on the phone). Mail, however, continued to crash Firefox on the Nexus. The solution was simple: Dolphin browser has a much nicer user interface and handles gmail just fine.

Dolphin is a much better Firefox alternative for Android. Tabbed browsing, add-ons and tool bars in the gutter make it really nice to use.

So today I’ve uninstalled Firefox on my mobile devices and have relegated it to second-class citizen on my two laptops. As it stands now, it’s not nearly up to the task of competing with Chrome as an everyday use.

I think that while Mozilla also believes that the Web is the platform, they were late to develop Firefox that way. While Chrome engineers were thinking of ways of taking their product past just a simple application to making it a all-inclusive method to interact with a computer, Mozilla was still working on Firefox as a desktop application. They seem now to be nearly two years behind in offering features that Chrome has standardized.

Coming to this conclusion is not really satisfying. I would really like a browser to go toe-to-toe with Chrome on features and usability. It’s tough for a non-profit to spar with a company that buys other companies for breakfast, but I don’t think that should let Mozilla off the hook. Dolphin on Android is far superior and is developed by a small company called Mobotap, which has two-thirds the number of Employees at Mozilla (100 to 150 according to Tech Crunch’s Crunch Base).

Hopefully the recent cooling off of Thunderbird development, the upcoming Firefox Marketplace and Firefox OS will mean great developments ahead. I’m pretty confident Firefox will get better, but I’m not sure it will ever catch Chrome.

Living on Firefox Pt. 4: Chrome sweet Chrome
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  • shadowguy14

    Chrome will always be the best