When Mozilla launched Firefox Focus last year, its take on a modern iPhone web browser, it doubled down on privacy. Now, nearly half a year later, Mozilla is bringing the same security-conscious experience to devices running Android, Google’s smartphone operating system.
“For the times when you don’t want to leave a record on your phone. You may be looking for information that in certain situations is sensitive — searches for engagement rings, flights to Las Vegas or expensive cigars, for example,” Mozilla wrote in a blog post. “And sometimes you just want a super simple, super-fast Web experience — no tabs, no menus, no pop-ups. Firefox Focus gives you just that.”
You would be hard-pressed to tell the difference between Focus for Android and its iPhone counterpart. The app retains the stripped-down, simple interface of its iOS cousin, down to the incredibly basic browsing experience and Yahoo search toolbar. You cannot favorite web pages or open multiple tabs in Focus — instead, you are expected to perform quick searches and visit web pages directly.
The distinct lack of bells and whistle works in Focus’s favor, though. Mozilla claims that its ad-blocking and anti-tracking tech speeds up web browsing sessions and decreases page load times.
“[Trackers] are notoriously known for slowing down your mobile experience,” Firefox mobile product manager Barbara Bermes wrote in a blog post announcing the Android launch. “Why do we block these ad trackers? Because they not only track your behavior without your knowledge, [but] also slow down the web on your mobile device,”
To commemorate the debut of Focus for Android, Mozilla introduced the key new features first to Google’s platform. You can switch off the web browser’s built-in tracker blocker so that you can view sites that do not load properly with it enabled, or view the ad tracker counter to see how many analytics are being actively blocked on a given page. And you will now get push notification reminders to erase your browser history.
“For Android users, [we] made Focus a great default browser experience,” Bermes wrote. “Since we support both custom tabs and the ability to disable the ad blocking as needed, it works great with apps like Facebook when you just want to read an article without being tracked.”