Late last year, Firefox introduced a new, private web browser for iPhone, called Firefox Focus. The browser by default blocks ad trackers and can erase your browsing history, including passwords and cookies. Now, over a half-year later, Firefox is bringing the Focus browser to Android devices, with some added functionality.
Like the iOS version, Firefox Focus remains a minimalistic browser experience. There aren’t many configuration options, or even things you’d think of as core browser features – like support for favoriting websites or opening new tabs. Instead, Firefox Focus is designed more for quick searches, or direct visits to URLs, without having to worry about whether your session is being tracked in some way.
Unfortunately, its lack of tabs in favor of simplicity is something that makes it less usable than competitive browsers – tabs are so common that it’s difficult to go without them. It’s also troubled by its choice of Yahoo* as its search engine default. That being said, the browser has appeal to privacy-minded users. Its App Store rating is currently showing as 4 out of 5 stars, following 485 ratings and reviews. (Mozilla claims it averages a 4.6 rating, however).
Mozilla also touts that Firefox Focus’ increased privacy has the perk of speeding up web browsing sessions, as ads and other web trackers can slow down pages from loading and impact performance.
In the new Android release, Firefox Focus has added a few other features, as well, including the ability to disable its built-in tracker blocker. The company explains that, at times, sites may not load properly with the blocker on, so this lets you quickly shut it off in order to view a particular web page.
Another new feature is the addition of an ad tracker counter, which largely serves to satisfy user curiosity about how many tracking ads are blocked while using the app.
Firefox Focus will also now remind you to erase your history, when it’s running in the background. You’ll receive a push notification that you can tap to launch the app again and take the necessary actions.
On Android, Firefox Focus can be set at the default browser, which means you would be able to use it with your apps like Facebook, when you want to read articles off the network without being tracked. (Of course, you can always manually launch another browser like Chrome when you need access to more advanced browser features.)
The new Firefox Focus browser is officially launching today on Google Play as a free download.
*Disclosure: Yahoo was acquired by Verizon, TC’s parent company by way of AOL; Post also updated as the option to switch search engines wasn’t available at launch, but was later added to iOS and now to Android’s publicly launched version of the app.