Mozilla, the non-profit organization behind Firefox, seems to always be reinventing itself. It has tried numerous times to create new revenue sources, changed a classic logo, and even introduce paid features and services. It has also recently reinvented its browser for Android, almost throwing away many of the conventions and features that users have become accustomed to over the years. Perhaps unsurprisingly, that also includes add-ons of which only a handful will work with the new Android version of the browser when it launches.
To some extent, the new Firefox for Android, currently called Firefox Preview, is an overhaul. Mozilla spins it as taking Gecko engine it already uses for all its browsers and turning it into a reusable Android library. As with many such overhauls, compatibility with a lot of things will be thrown out and browser extensions are always the ones that get the short end of the stick.
That’s not to say the new Firefox for Android won’t support addons. Mozilla says it wants to ensure that the first experience with the new browser to be exceptional so it’s limiting supported addons to a subset that is part of its Recommended Extensions program. While those extensions cover a wide gamut, including ad blockers password managers, and content downloaders, there are less than a hundred of them in total. For those who rely on lesser-known extensions, the experience will be anything but exceptional.
There’s also a bit of confusion about the multiple versions of Firefox available on Google Play Store at the moment. To put an end to the questions, Mozilla will reduce that down to two. Those who want to keep testing new features will have to move from Firefox Preview Nightly, which is being removed, to Firefox Preview. Features from Firefox Preview will then be moved to Firefox for Android Beta.
When the new Firefox for Android goes stable, however, is still in flux. When it does, do expect a bit of trouble as people transition to new versions and potentially see their extensions break. Whether a brand new Firefox is what Mozilla needs to retain is footing on Android is still an open question, especially with Chrome’s rapid development and Google’s home court advantage.