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Good news: new Firefox for Android will support extensions

Mozilla is working on a new mobile browser for Android. Firefox Preview, that is the current name of the browser to distinguish it from the soon-to-be-replaced Firefox for Android, was released to Google Play in mid-2019.

The browser will replace the current stable version of Firefox for Android eventually; users of that version may have noticed that it was moved to the ESR branch already to free up resources for Firefox Preview development.

firefox preview 1.0

Several features of Firefox Preview were not set in stone when Mozilla began development of the mobile browser for Android. One of these features, support for browser extensions, was one of those features.

The removal of the feature would cut one of the distinguishing features of the web browser as most Android browsers don’t support browser extensions. There was also the likelihood that the decision to ignore extensions would have irritated existing users who use extensions in the current version of the browser.

Mozilla announced on October 23, 2019 that Firefox Preview will support extensions. The browser, which is based on the new GeckoView engine, will support WebExtensions just like Desktop versions of the Firefox web browser do.

We’re happy to confirm that GeckoView is currently building support for extensions through the WebExtensions API. This feature will be available in Firefox Preview, and we are looking forward to offering a great experience for both mobile users and developers.

Support for extension APIs won’t match the current level of support in the classic version of Firefox for Android. Mozilla plans to focus its efforts on introducing support for APIs that extensions of the recommended extensions program require to function, and here specifically on APIs for extensions that “work well on mobile and cover a variety of utilities and features”.

Popular browser extensions such as uBlock Origin, NoScript Security Suite, LastPass Password Manager, Enhancer for YouTube, or Firefox Multi-Account Containers are all recommended extensions. Whether all of these will be fully supported when Firefox Preview will be released as a final version remains to be seen.

Mozilla expects to introduce official support for extensions in Firefox Preview in the first half of 2020.

Android users interested in Firefox Preview may download the recent version from Google Play. The mobile browser can be installed next to Firefox for Android.

Closing Words

Extensions support is an important feature of Firefox for Android and it is good to see that Mozilla will implement support for — some — APIs in the upcoming version of Firefox as well. The initial release will support only some APIs and not all that Firefox for Android or the desktop versions of Firefox support.

While that is disappointing as it means that a number of extensions won’t work in Firefox Preview, it is certainly better than not supporting extensions at all. It remains to be seen which extensions will be supported ultimately by the new mobile browser.

Now You: Which extensions would you like to see supported?

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