Firefox for Android Will Soon Support Desktop Extensions

In a surprise announcement, Mozilla says that it’s bringing Firefox desktop extensions to the browser’s Android app. The non-profit is now asking developers to optimize their extensions for the mobile platform, as the new “open ecosystem of extensions” is slated to launch by 2024. A more specific launch date will be revealed this September.

Essentially, Firefox for Android is going back to its roots. The browser used to support third-party extensions, but it lost this functionality in 2020 when the Android browser was overhauled with a more modern and secure codebase. Since then, Firefox for Android has only supported a handful of extensions, not the full suite of third-party extensions that users would prefer. Now that proper extension support is coming to Firefox on Android, users on smartphones and tablets will have more freedom to customize their experience, streamline their workflow, and avoid some annoyances on the web.

This change will also help Firefox stand out from the crowd. Yes, lesser-known Android browsers like Kiwi Browser offer robust third-party extension support, but Chrome and other well-known mobile browsers do not. The only notable exception is Samsung Internet Browser, which supports extensions in a reasonably limited form. To reiterate, Firefox for Android will support desktop extensions. It isn’t building a library of extensions from the ground up.

Note that the Firefox Nightly browser, which is intended for development and bug testing, originally introduced desktop extension support through its “Collections” feature in 2020. But because desktop extensions were not optimized for mobile, the experience was crummy. This is partially due to the fact that Android, as a mobile operating system, is quite aggressive when it comes to resource management. It likes to shut down resource-heavy background tasks, a problem that Mozilla has only managed to mitigate by transitioning extensions from background scripts to non-persistent event pages.

That said, Mozilla is now guiding developers through the mobile optimization process, which involves updating their extensions to handle recovering from background shutdowns more easily. Many Firefox extensions will be ready for Android in the coming weeks, and some may already be optimized for Android. So, if you want to test any extensions early, download Firefox Nightly.

Source: Mozilla

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