Thanks to a new version of Firefox for Android, the browser will now be compatible with around 250 million more phones than it did before. The browser that worked only on devices with an ARMv7 processor or higher and running Android 2.2 or newer is now embracing older ARMv6 running devices too.

Version 2.2 will now be available on a string of older and budget handsets widely used the world over, including HTC ChaCha, Samsung Galaxy Ace, Motorola Fire XT, LG Optimus Q, and HTC Status.

Firefox for Android

Firefox for Android

In its release notes, states, “At Mozilla, our mission is to bring the Web to as many people as we can. Given that roughly half of the nearly 500 million Android phones in use today run on ARMv6 architecture, this is an important step toward making the open Web free to all.”

The basic requirement for even handsets that run ARMv6 is that they must have at least an 800MHz processor and a minimum of 512MB RAM. But it does look like Mozilla is widening its horizons to accommodate other handsets by lowering its requirements.

The new release includes hardware and software decoder support for h.264 video for Android 4/4.1 and more importantly seamless integration with TalkBack, the Android vocal screen reader. This newly designed feature is supposed to help the visually impaired make the best use of the browser with no need for further configuration or installation. This version will also be bringing along with it the Tab Preview feature aimed at making web browsing easier. It also includes optimisations for HTML5 based content too. 

These new changes on Firefox come as a welcome change as Google’s own browser Chrome needs version 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich to run, a move that alienates over 70 percent of Android users. Firefox automatically becomes the best option for a well maintained browse on Android.

Mozilla is already working on the Firefox OS, as announced in July this year. The OS, dubbed ‘Boot to Gecko’ will be based on Web and HTML5, promises to be better and cheaper than Android. “The first handset cost is sub-$100 and will be launched before Q1 in Brazil. We can produce the same experience on Android cheaper, or a better experience at the same price,” CEO Matthew Key had said at the Telefonica Digital conference in London earlier this year.

Mozilla claims that due to the optimisation of the platform for entry-level smartphones and the removal of unnecessary middleware layers, mobile operators will have the ability to offer richer experiences at a range of price points, including at the low-end of the smartphone price range, helping to drive adoption across developing markets.

Firefox’s latest version runs on version 2.2 and above. The download is at a hefty 17MB, so it is advisable to get on to a Wi-Fi connection or 3G as it may take really long on a regular GPRS connection. The app has been downloaded between 10 million and 50 million times from Google Play already.

To get the app for your phone, go on to the store on your phone or follow this link.

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