Is Iceraven the better Firefox for Android mobile browser?
About two years ago, Mozilla revealed plans to replace the then-current version of its Firefox web browser for Android with a redesigned browser. The new browser would offer better performance and web compatibility according to Mozilla because of its new framework that it was based on.
It was called Firefox Preview during development and migration from the classic version of Firefox for Android to the new Firefox for Android started in early 2020.
While the new Firefox's performance and web compatibility was indeed better, Mozilla made a few design decisions that affected part of the old browser's userbase. The first was that the new Firefox supported only a limited number of add-ons. Mozilla picked add-ons from its recommended extensions program, including crowd-favorites such as uBlock Origin.
Users who installed other add-ons in Firefox could not get these to run in the Android version anymore. The Stable version offers up to this day no option to install all add-ons that are available. Mozilla did introduce full add-ons support in Nightly, a development version of Firefox, but handling was complicated.
Another feature that Mozilla removed from the stable version of Firefox was support for about:config. This angered users who used about:config to make configuration changes.
Iceraven is an open source fork of the new Firefox web browser for Android. It is based on the stable version of the browser and most features are identical to that of Firefox.
There are two core differences between the two browsers, and these address both issues described above. When you use Iceraven, you may access about:config just like before. The feature works just like before: type about:config in the address bar of the browser and you get the list of available parameters that you may modify to your liking.
The second difference improves support for add-ons. Iceraven supports more add-ons; not all of them, because the system requires the use of a custom collection, but the list is much longer. Users may request the inclusion of add-ons if one is missing.
Not all of these will work, one of the main reasons why Mozilla disabled support for installing all add-ons in Firefox Stable for Android. Some won't work because they may use desktop specific features, others won't work because Firefox for Android lacks support for certain features, still.
The main downside to using Iceraven is that there are no "warranties or guarantees of security or updates or even stability". While it worked fine during extended tests, users may run into issues using the browser.
Iceraven's support for about:config and more add-ons may be reason enough for Firefox users to give it a try. Installation of Firefox Nightly for Android is an alternative, as it supports these two options as well; you only have to create your own add-ons collection and integrate it in the browser to extend support for extensions in the mobile browser.
Since both are considered experimental, it may come down to which browser works better for your use cases. Iceraven is based on Firefox Stable, but it includes modifications that may affect stability.
Now You: have you tried Iceraven? Which browser do you use on Android?Advertisement