Opinion: Firefox for Android needs best-in-class ad-blocking and privacy protections to compete

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 28, 2022
Firefox
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When you look at browser usage statistics, you will notice that Mozilla Firefox is still doing fairly well on desktop machines. On Android, Firefox's usage share is not all that great. Statcounter, one of the usage share tracking companies, sees Firefox at 0.5% of the mobile market, yet at 7.8% of the desktop market.

firefox for android

Mozilla launched a new version of Firefox for Android some time ago, hoping that the move would give the mobile browser a much needed push. While usage numbers remained more or less stable at around 0.5%, it limited one of the main distinguishing factors from Firefox for Android: add-ons.

Firefox Stable for Android supports a handful of extensions now, opposed to most extensions that were available for Firefox previously. While the list includes popular choices such as uBlock Origin, NoScript or Dark Reader, it is lacking in comparison to the previous Firefox version.

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Mobile Browser Inequality

Google Chrome and Apple Safari have a clear advantage on mobile, as they ship with most mobile devices by default. Chrome is the standard browser on most Android devices, and on Apple's mobile devices, it is the company's Safari browser. Samsung's mobile browser comes in third, and it too has an advantage as it is the default web browser on Samsung devices (with Chrome being installed as well).

It remains to be seen whether the European Union's Digital Markets Act will level the playing field. Even if it does, it will only impact the market in the European Union and not elsewhere.

A potential solution

To compete, mobile browsers need to offer features that Chrome or Safari are not offering. It will be tough for Mozilla to compete on a technological level, e.g., make Firefox feel a lot faster than Chrome on Android or beat Chrome when it comes to support for new ground-breaking technologies.

One option that Mozilla has is to make Firefox for Android the most private browser that is available on Android. If you check the most recent privacy test for Android browsers, you will notice that several other browsers are beating Firefox when it comes to privacy. (Note: the site is run by a Brave employee)

Only a fraction of Internet users cares about these privacy tests, and whether a browser has fingerprinting resistances included or not.

Here is my proposal: come to an agreement with the developer of uBlock Origin to get the extension integrated natively in Firefox. Turn it on by default using sensible settings that provide a good level of protection and web compatibility.

Firefox would feel blazing fast on mobile thanks to the integrated content blocker, and battery usage would also improve as a consequence. Mozilla could implement better options to turn off the content blocker on select sites, to highlight that this would help sites that rely on advertising survive.

Downside to this would be that Mozilla would lose out on much of the revenue that is coming in from Android. Mozilla relies on a Google Search partnership for much of its revenue. It is unclear how much the Android browser is contributing to that. Mozilla could look for a different search company, one that is privacy-friendly when it comes to searches.

Alternatively, Mozilla could try and generate revenue through donations.

Now You: what do you think of the proposal? How would you try to increase the market share of Firefox for Android?

Summary
Opinion: Firefox for Android needs best-in-class ad-blocking and privacy protections to compete
Article Name
Opinion: Firefox for Android needs best-in-class ad-blocking and privacy protections to compete
Description
Firefox for Android is not getting any ground usage-share wise. Here is a proposal that would certainly improve the browser on Android.
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Ghacks Technology News
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Comments

  1. Ashwin said on July 28, 2022 at 8:31 am
    Reply

    There are a couple of reasons why people prefer to use Chromium based browsers on Android, performance and battery life. Firefox’s mobile app is pretty bad in both of those, if Mozilla addresses these issues, I think we can safely expect a rise in the browser’s usage. The only reason I use it in its current state is because of uBlock Origin, but even so, pages load quite slowly.

    As for privacy, Total Cookie Protection is available in the Nightly and Beta versions, you have to enable it manually from about:config. I’d love to see support for Containers on the mobile browser for better control.

    Mull, Fennec and Iceraven are good privacy-friendly browsers based on Firefox, and if you want a Chromium-based app, there’s Bromite.

    1. Iron Heart said on July 28, 2022 at 3:30 pm
      Reply

      @Ashwin

      > Total Cookie Protection

      Coincidentally happened just after Google announced their departure from using cookies. Google Topics is the new method of tracking, hence why Mozilla was allowed to include this.

      > Fennec

      The Fennec F-Droid developer thinks that Mozilla spies on users and is fed up because even he can’t fully remove it:

      “Fennec F-Droid is based on the latest Firefox release (codenamed Fenix).
      It has proprietary bits and telemetry removed, but still connects to
      various Mozilla and Google services that can track users.”

      source: https://f-droid.org/en/packages/org.mozilla.fennec_fdroid/

      1. Aluminum said on July 29, 2022 at 10:11 pm
        Reply

        “The Fennec F-Droid developer thinks that Mozilla spies on users and is fed up”

        Having spent time in the F-Droid forums, I have never heard the Fennec or Mull dev say they were fed up, Yes Firefox has problems, but both devs prefer Gecko over Blink. One of the reasons is they say Chromium code is a “mess” and hard to compile for F-Droid.

        Stop spreading false information to fit your pro-Google/Brave agenda.

      2. Iron Heart said on July 30, 2022 at 8:34 am
        Reply

        @Aluminium

        > I have never heard the Fennec or Mull dev say they were fed up

        Read the quote above and look at the related GitHub issue. That’s how someone who is fed up sounds like.

        > Yes Firefox has problems, but both devs prefer Gecko over Blink. One of the reasons is they say Chromium code is a “mess” and hard to compile for F-Droid.

        Most browsers are forks of Chromium. That 2 developers prefer Firefox says absolutely nothing. Chromium is not a mess, it’s easily forkable and embeddable as well. Hence why most browsers are based on it, and it’s also why so many Electron-based applications exist. And Bromite, based on Chromium, is on F-Droid by the way.

        > Stop spreading false information to fit your pro-Google/Brave agenda.

        Brave is de facto a good browser even if you dislike it. And using a Chromium-based browser is not necessarily being pro-Google. I am not Pro-Google, if I were, I would use Chrome and avoid adblockers to maximize their profits. Your claim is as silly as saying that someone using GrapheneOS, which is based on Android, is being pro-Google. It doesn’t get any sillier than that, I suppose.

      3. Aluminium said on July 30, 2022 at 11:39 am
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        Most browsers are forks of Chromium.

        These forks are run by for profit enterprises which in most cases have large development teams. Bromite is the only browser that is comparable to Fennec and Mull in scope, but….

        “And Bromite, based on Chromium, is on F-Droid by the way.”

        No it’s not on the official F-Droid repo. It is available on a separate repo run by the Bromite dev, NOT F-Droid.

        I not sure you are posting this because of your lack of understanding how F-Droid works or simply trying to push your clearly biased agenda.

      4. Iron Heart said on July 30, 2022 at 3:31 pm
        Reply

        @Aluminium

        > These forks are run by for profit enterprises which in most cases have large development teams.

        No, only Chrome and Edge are developed by large corporations. All other companies having Chromium-based browsers are rather small, and there are other Chromium-based browsers that are developed by a handful of people like Ungoogled Chromium or Kiwi, there isn’t just Bromite.

        > No it’s not on the official F-Droid repo. It is available on a separate repo run by the Bromite dev, NOT F-Droid.

        Uh oh, you need to add the repo like so many others because it is not among the by-definition-limited-in-scope default repos, therefore that means that Bromite isn’t available on F-Droid!

        LOL, I can’t even…

        > clearly biased agenda

        Seriously, stop throwing stones in that little glass house of yours. Whenever I read the nick “Aluminium” I expect a heavily biased Firefox fanboy comment and am never disappointed.

      5. Aluminimum said on July 31, 2022 at 5:48 pm
        Reply

        “> These forks are run by for profit enterprises which in most cases have large development teams.

        No, only Chrome and Edge are developed by large corporations. All other companies having Chromium-based browsers are rather small, and there are other Chromium-based browsers that are developed by a handful of people like Ungoogled Chromium or Kiwi, there isn’t just Bromite.”

        I don’t think for profit enterprise means what you think it means.

        See dictionary link
        https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/for-profit

        See large corporation
        https://www.lawinsider.com/dictionary/large-corporation

        If I run a lemonade stand, that is a for profit enterprise. Just because I am generating a profit does not make me a large corporation.

        “Uh oh, you need to add the repo like so many others because it is not among the by-definition-limited-in-scope default repos, therefore that means that Bromite isn’t available on F-Droid!”

        Again, I don’t think you know what F-Droid is or how it works. Being as pro-Google as you are, I can’t see you using anything but the Play store. But give F-Droid a chance, it has some quality apps on there, even if all the browsers on it are Gecko or Webview based.

        I have been patiently waiting for you to say something other than Google owns Firefox conspiracy theories, Martin is censoring me for saying rude things, 3% market share, and discredited self declared security expert links.

        Please, share some original thought, I know you are capable of it. I have faith in you and I am rooting for you. Hit me with something good.

        PS I use Brave but I have the crypto spam disabled. Sometimes Firefox and occasionally Opera for old times sake.

      6. Aluminium said on July 30, 2022 at 11:42 am
        Reply

        “Read the quote above and look at the related GitHub issue. That’s how someone who is fed up sounds like.”

        You have no link to Github. Nowhere does your “source” say that. At no time does the term “fed up” appear.

        Really, stop making things up just because you want other people to hate Firefox as much as you.

      7. Iron Heart said on July 30, 2022 at 3:58 pm
        Reply

        @Aluminium

        > At no time does the term “fed up” appear.

        I never put –> fed up fed up you want other people to hate Firefox as much as you

        Hopefully people can think for themselves; I can’t and don’t need to influence anyone. I voice my opinion just like you do and you would be better off dealing with it instead of crying about it all the time.

      8. Iron Heart said on July 30, 2022 at 4:00 pm
        Reply

        CORRECTION:

        @Aluminium

        > At no time does the term “fed up” appear.

        I never put FED UP in quotation marks, therefore it’s not a direct quotation. This is my impression of the dev based on what I’ve read of him so far. You are moving the goalposts because you are in denial regarding the attitude of the Fennec F-Droid dev. The dev clearly thinks that there are connections which shouldn’t legitimately be there in the first place and he is unable to remove them. He also thinks Firefox isn’t free software, strictly speaking.

        Here is entire thread for you to study, where the Fennec F-Droid dev @relan (+ community!) go into Firefox anti-features that can’t be turned off:

        https://forum.f-droid.org/t/welcome-a-new-fennec-f-droid/11113/80

        The initial post is very informative – as you can see, the dev is ecstatic for the new FF for Android release and doesn’t sound pissed / disappointed at all, therefore I was wrong and you are right. He also didn’t specifically say FED UP, therefore making you doubly right! Yeehaw! /s

        Truth straight from the horse’s mouth:

        “If the question is “whether the upstream Firefox for Android will ever become free software”, I personally don’t believe that. Of course there are people at Mozilla who share free software values (they even helped us in the past), but Mozilla as a company is quite hostile to those values.”

        source: https://forum.f-droid.org/t/welcome-a-new-fennec-f-droid/11113/76

        hahahahahahahahaha

        > you want other people to hate Firefox as much as you

        Hopefully people can think for themselves; I can’t and don’t need to influence anyone. I voice my opinion just like you do and you would be better off dealing with it instead of crying about it all the time.

      9. Aluminum said on July 31, 2022 at 9:04 pm
        Reply

        Congratulations, like all great researchers you started with a conclusion and tried to look for evidence to support your conclusion. When you initially could not find any, you looked for evidence that sort of supported your conclusion and declared with confidence that your hypothesis was now fact.

        From now until the end of time, all research method classes will teach this undeniably infallible method of research.

      10. Iron Heart said on August 1, 2022 at 6:19 pm
        Reply

        @Aluminium

        No my dude, I was aware of the thread before I’ve posted. I am aware of browsers that are on F-Droid in general because they have very rigorous criteria for their listings re. open source / transparency.

        Nice attempt at smearing me though. I think people can draw their own conclusions from the words of the Fennec F-Droid dev.

      11. Aluminum said on August 2, 2022 at 8:18 pm
        Reply

        “The initial post is very informative – as you can see, the dev is ecstatic for the new FF for Android release and doesn’t sound pissed / disappointed at all, therefore I was wrong and you are right. He also didn’t specifically say FED UP, therefore making you doubly right! Yeehaw! /s

        Truth straight from the horse’s mouth:

        “If the question is “whether the upstream Firefox for Android will ever become free software”, I personally don’t believe that. Of course there are people at Mozilla who share free software values (they even helped us in the past), but Mozilla as a company is quite hostile to those values.”

        source: https://forum.f-droid.org/t/welcome-a-new-fennec-f-droid/11113/76

        I read the link. The Fennec dev is talking about non-free libraries being included with Firefox. He is not talking about being unable to “remove the spying” or what ever conspiracy theory you are trying to push. He did not seem at all fed up since the post you linked was from 2 years ago and he is still making Fennec binaries for F-Droid as of a few days ago. Nowhere does he say fed up. Next time you want to look for something, start with a question rather than a conclusion.

        Brave is not on F-Droid because of non-free assets included. What was that about not throwing rocks in a glass house?

        https://www.reddit.com/r/brave_browser/comments/m8ll5k/why_brave_is_not_in_fdroid/

        https://www.f-droid.org/forums/topic/brave-browser/

  2. m3city said on July 28, 2022 at 8:47 am
    Reply

    If it’s 0.5% then revenue from that is meaningless. Most of users don’t care/know that they can have alternatives, so they use whatever is provided by default. Only a fraction will make an effort to search and install an alternative browser, calendar app, email etc. So it’s not features – it’s monopoly of google chrome. One can say “google made android, then it’s their right to load it with browser – or even more – it’s their responsibility to provide a browser by default”. And google does that, chrome does it’s thing as expected.

    So, inclusion of ublock would be great, but I highly doubt if it made any difference to market share.

    1. kuro68k said on August 1, 2022 at 1:41 pm
      Reply

      What keeps me on Chrome for desktop is the fact that Android for Firefox is broken on Pixel phones, and I need to sync between desktop and mobile. If they fixed the Android version I’d be using Firefox on desktop as well.

      I have a feeling the reason it is only 0.5% of revenue is because it’s broken badly enough that people just don’t want to use it.

      I’ve submitted bug reports but they get ignored.

  3. Cartes said on July 28, 2022 at 10:14 am
    Reply

    As a simple user I trust the policy on personal data and I appreciate the synchronization of the browser. The biggest problem I have with firefox is the number of tabs open. Every time we open a link, a shortcut… A new tab is opened. So, after a while, it is particularly difficult to find your way around (translated with Google translate)

    1. Anon said on July 29, 2022 at 1:17 pm
      Reply

      @Cartes How new links/tabs open in Firefox is a setting you can set. Thus, you can have links open by default in the current tab. Then, CTRL-Click to open a new tab via a link.

    2. Dan Killam said on July 29, 2022 at 6:07 pm
      Reply

      I think Firefox needs an organizational overhaul. I don’t know what is going on over there, but management is seemingly hostile to user wants/needs and continuously pursues the opposite in terms of development. Thunderbird email was spun out as a subsidiary with separate management and fundraising. It was portrayed at the time as the beginning of the end for the project, but it turned out to be the best thing that could have happened. Revenues from donations are through the roof and there are dozens of new features appearing after years of stagnation. So my vote would be to spin off Firefox and divest Mozilla from management. They seem to have poor direction from the current management team.

    3. motang said on August 3, 2022 at 4:50 pm
      Reply

      You could also have those tabs close after a week/month, etc. if they have not been viewed. I have that it is a life saver.

  4. NeonRobot said on July 28, 2022 at 10:27 am
    Reply

    Who needs stock cutdown Firefox?
    If we have Fennec and Iceraven with plugins support. Ublock runs just fine.

  5. Frankel said on July 28, 2022 at 10:30 am
    Reply

    No it doesn’t. ublock origin & noscript works fine thank you very much. If pre-installed addon are required because humanity lost the ability to maintain tech and software themselves i cannot humanely care less than a femto joule. Just install proper lists?

  6. Lukasz said on July 28, 2022 at 10:46 am
    Reply

    Nope. I use adguard app on android + dns filtering and it can cover almost all browser, maybe except opera and their strange certifications support

    Firefox is pretty nice, but a bit slow, can drain battery and also has some issues with adguard ssl filtering so.. Not this time

    1. ShintoPlasm said on July 28, 2022 at 2:30 pm
      Reply

      Same here.

    2. anonymous said on July 28, 2022 at 5:49 pm
      Reply

      I use Blokada 5 from F-Droid. There is also TrackerControl. Both of these work great at blocking unwanted connections from the OS or any application. They do take up the VPN slot, unfortunately, but if I need the VPN (on public wifi, for instance) I can just disable the tracker blocker temporarily and rely on NoScript and uBlockOrigin while browsing.

      And since I’m on /e/OS and use mostly FOSS apps from F-Droid, there are not a lot of unwanted background connections going on anyway.

      1. anonymous said on July 28, 2022 at 5:50 pm
        Reply

        P.S. I also use Fennec.

  7. disappointed in firefox said on July 28, 2022 at 11:31 am
    Reply

    Firefox is so far behind Vivaldi or Brave on Android it’s not even funny. It’s slow as hell, cumbersome, lacks configuration options and on top of that its https only mode is a joke. It establishes a http connection first, instead of simply upgrading the link to https from the beginning and showing an error with the option to open a http page if https is not configured properly.

    There’s no reason to use that.

    1. Frankel said on July 30, 2022 at 10:51 am
      Reply

      I don’t have all these problems? Your phone *might* just be weak old hardware :)

  8. 0x49D1 said on July 28, 2022 at 12:47 pm
    Reply

    Firefox probably needs some kind of builtin blocker, like Vivaldi did not long time ago (and they did that nicely: you can add your own lists, show the statistics. Also they even show you the list of their sponsors, which you can block or leave opened to support them). Anyway Firefox seems to evolve in some lower steps then the mentioned Vivaldi, probably because Vivaldi has almost no worries about engine/renderer and other system stuff; they mostly change UI and add functions on top of it.

  9. Coriy said on July 28, 2022 at 1:21 pm
    Reply

    Beyond the security issues (needing 3rd party ad-blocking), Firefox on Android has a wont-fix issue with saving web pages, that keeps me from using it. I like saving articles and pdfs are good for that (as are epubs), but neither work on android. Yes, I could sync, but I can create pdfs with Bromite, so I use that.

  10. Kiwi said on July 28, 2022 at 1:38 pm
    Reply

    I think there are enough greedy browsers for android and Firefox should just stop. Give up. Quit android development altogether. You lost a long time ago, old Mozzie.. Just go home, no one will care.

    1. VioletMoon said on July 29, 2022 at 12:32 am
      Reply

      @Kiwi

      Somewhat of a solution since Kiwi browser is the browser I use. It’s mentioned in the comments. It works fine, and with Proton VPN [battery drain issue, perhaps], all is well; oddly, I rarely use my mobile for much Internet work.

      https://kiwibrowser.com/

  11. semce said on July 28, 2022 at 1:57 pm
    Reply

    Actually I would care. I use FF on Android so I have access to my desktop bookmarks. I seldom use the browser on my phone. My phone is used for talk and text and extremely rarely for internet. So for me having FF on my Android phone works.

    1. john said on July 28, 2022 at 7:26 pm
      Reply

      @semce

      for bookmarks you could use kiwi browser, with the floccus extension, which syncs bookmarks.
      install floccus on desktop too and you can sync with android.

  12. ECJ said on July 28, 2022 at 2:12 pm
    Reply

    My Opinion:

    Firefox needs to switch to the Chromium engine and then incorporate best-in-class ad-blocking (with uBlock Origin-like features) natively inside the browser – like Brave browser does – so that it won’t be affected by the Manifest V3 limitations. “Firefox Translations” also needs to be natively built into the browser.

    Firefox is still going to have low market share compared to Chrome and Safari, but at least they’re not going to be wasting a whole load of money working on a browser engine no-one is using and that web developers are not being paid to test against (they can already target >96 of browsers across desktop and mobile just by testing against Chrome and Safari). That will also mean Firefox will not need to work on their own PWA (web app) support (again).

    With Firefox not needing to spend all that money developing and maintaining their own browser engine, there would be more chance of them being able to survive without the Google search deal and potentially be able to manage with other smaller search engine deals – such as Startpage or DuckDuckGo – combined with other revenue streams like donations. I never figured out how Mozilla managed to blow $400-450 million a year anyway if you look at what other software companies are able to create with a fraction of that budget.

    1. ShintoPlasm said on July 28, 2022 at 2:37 pm
      Reply

      But what would be the point of Firefox then, when Brave and Vivaldi already do all those things?

      1. ECJ said on July 28, 2022 at 2:48 pm
        Reply

        You’re looking at it backwards. What would be the point of Brave and Vivaldi if Firefox did this.

      2. Iron Heart said on July 28, 2022 at 3:25 pm
        Reply

        @ECJ

        Mozilla will never turn on advanced privacy features nor will they ever include an adblocker by default. They depend on Google’s goodwill for survival.

    2. olbaze said on July 28, 2022 at 4:35 pm
      Reply

      The problem with that is that Google is in control, and the majority contributor, of the Chromium project. Their data shows that 80% of all contributors and 92% of all commits are from Google. Meaning, that in a situation where Chromium is the sole browser base, Google is in control of the web. We’ve seen this with Manifest V3: The only thing Vivaldi/Brave/others can do is try adding features to their forks that address some of the holes left by Manifest V3. And as we’ve heard from Gorhill (maintainer of uBlock Origin), Manifest V3 is fundamentally incompatible with existing features.

      I use Vivaldi, and think of it as a showcase for the potential of Chromium. Before Vivaldi, Brave, and Edge Chromium, Chromium was a simple, basic browser with few features and customization. I think that by itself makes these projects worthwhile as something that exists.

      The only way I could see a Chromium-only web being acceptable is if Chromium wasn’t in control of any one company. Make a consortium of web browser developers, where each company has an equal voice, and no single company has an absolute power to veto choices.

      1. Iron Heart said on July 28, 2022 at 4:59 pm
        Reply

        @olbaze

        While I agree with your comment in general, I think you miss an important point: The stats you’ve posted only concern the upstream repo, not the repos of downstream projects. There are a great many changes Brave Software, Microsoft, Opera, Vivaldi and others make in their own downstream forks of the code which they know would never be approved upstream, hence why they don’t bother to commit them to upstream. These commits / changes are never in the equation if you solely refer to the upstream repo at all times.

        While it is true that Manifest V3 is too big of a change for (smaller) downstream projects like Brave and Vivaldi to revert, them having their own adblocker is an acceptable solution IMHO. Especially Brave’s adblocker is very advanced by now.
        Manifest V3, while hammering adblockers, also makes it much harder for malware. With Manifest V2, extensions were able to monitor and intervene in the connections of the browser. This enabled positive things like adblocking, however, this also enabled redirecting and the monitoring of connections by malware and spyware. Under the new Manifest V3, the browser itself is in charge of the connections and handles them according to “rules” given to it by the extension. The browser does the blocking now and the extension tells it how, so to speak.
        gorhill likes to cry about that extensively but misses the fact that this will also eradicate all spyware extensions (extensions can no longer directly monitor traffic) and make redirects much harder. If there was no artificial rule limit introduced by Google, which was indeed an asshat move, I’d actually argue the new scheme to be the better solution.

        And another engine is not necessarily the solution. I’ve said this many times, if Google really wanted to push a web technology through, they would just start using it on their own popular websites like Maps, YouTube, GMail, Search, Google Docs etc. It doesn’t matter then whether you are Gecko-based not having those features or Chromium-based disabling those features, in both cases the websites won’t work correctly. It’s not an engine thing, mind you. It’s a “my services are popular as hell and nobody can afford to lose compatibility with them anyway” thing, you see.
        Plus, when it comes to extensions specifically, Mozilla is working directly with Google and Apple on their standardization, so that devs can develop them cross-browser. Them not adopting Manifest V3 would be more surprising than them adopting it. Mozilla is firmly in Google’s hands ever since they switched to WebExtensions back in 2017.

  13. Anonymous said on July 28, 2022 at 2:20 pm
    Reply

    I am a Firefox mobile user and have been for a long while, because I use it because I can use uBlock Origin. It’s easy enough to enable the extension, that I don’t think people who want it are going to be annoyed with the steps.

    I tend to think that the problem is that most people just put up with annoying/malicious ads because they don’t realize they have another option. Maybe it’s just that Firefox needs to advertise more that their mobile version allows extensions like uBlock Origin.

    Though I don’t think you’re not going to see mass adoption of an app that replaces a default app on a phone unless it’s by word of mouth. The majority of people are only going to seek out a browser if their friends and family tell them there’s a better option.

  14. Zig said on July 28, 2022 at 3:05 pm
    Reply

    Kiwi browser for Androind is based on Chromium, and supports all Chrome extensions, including uBlock !
    Chrome spying is disabled as far as I know.
    It’s very fast, 100% stable, and has a great dark theme.
    In my experience, it’s the best browser for Android, I can’t see any competition (I tried all the common browsers).

    1. Iron Heart said on July 28, 2022 at 3:39 pm
      Reply

      @Zig

      Funnily enough. Kiwi by now actually has broader support for extensions than current Firefox for Android (and its offshoots, like Fennec). Firefox for Android up to and including Firefox 68 had full extension support equivalent to the desktop version, but after that Mozilla decided to gimp it, leaving Kiwi as the sole browser with full extension support.

      Kiwi is not optimal for privacy; it removes a bunch of Google’s stuff but you should still check out its settings. Bromite and Brave are better for privacy, they don’t have extension support though. Extension support is actually why I also have Kiwi installed and why it’s currently my number 1 on Android, but I keep Bromite and Brave around also and use them interchangeably.

      1. Anonymous said on July 28, 2022 at 6:14 pm
        Reply

        @Iron Heart

        Yes, it’s so ironic.
        Mozilla used to be about customization, now it’s about restriction :)

        With the few settings tweaks you mentioned, and uBlock installed and set up, Kiwi is probably the best mobile browser in terms of security / privacy.

        I’m using a few extensions on Kiwi, so I can’t imagine “downgrading” to a browser that doesn’t support extensions.

  15. Anonymous said on July 28, 2022 at 3:17 pm
    Reply

    Opinion: ublock origin on firefox android is the best for adblocking.
    It is just chrome android is a lot faster and convenient for most. I used Bromite for its snappyness and userscript support. It can do most of the stuff firefox android does.

  16. Iron Heart said on July 28, 2022 at 3:22 pm
    Reply

    The author of this article, Martin Brinkmann, doesn’t understand that Mozilla is not allowed to hurt sugar daddy Google by including an adblocker by default. There is a dependency here – Mozilla needs Google’s money to survive since they have no business model of their own, they are leeches.

    That’s also the reason why several of Firefox’s privacy protections are off by default. Maybe 1% – 2% of all Firefox users know how to activate those, the number of adblock users is probably higher, but not by much. Last I checked uBlock Origin had around 6 million users. AdBlock Plus another 6 million or so. Firefox has 200+ million users still even though it’s on the decline.
    6 million uBO users who actually know about the add-on is nothing Google has to worry about – 200 million Firefox users using uBO by default would strengthen their worries.

    Brave has an adblocker built in because there is no financial dependence on Google, they just take the open source codebase of Chromium that many browsers use anyway and can do what they like with it. Mozilla on the other hand… Well, they have their own engine, but they will always need Google to survive financially. Wonder which dependence is greater, my guess would be the dependence of the browser not including the adblocker by default (LOL).

    Mozilla will never include an adblocker by default nor will they turn on any advanced privacy feature by default, without Google’s permission. Dear author, please understand that and hopefully move on to more interesting topics.

    1. Yash said on July 28, 2022 at 3:40 pm
      Reply

      Mozilla is maintaining a separate browser engine which Brave doesn’t. Plus with crypto s*** and ads Brave is the real leech organisation technically. Anyway enjoy writing comments. I’m out.

      1. Iron Heart said on July 28, 2022 at 5:47 pm
        Reply

        @Yash

        > Mozilla is maintaining a separate browser engine which Brave doesn’t.

        And? Read my reply to @olbaze, if Google wanted to push a user-hostile feature, they would just include it on their major services / websites and all, including Mozilla and Chromium-based browsers disabling said user-hostile features, are f*cked. The problem is Chrome, not the Chromium base. You can do whatever you like with the Chromium base. This is just desperate propaganda on your part justifying the existence of your favorite project.

        > Plus with crypto s*** and ads

        Brave actually has its own business model while Mozilla hasn’t. Mozilla’s business model, if you can call it that, is getting money from Google for helping them maintain their search monopoly. They actually got mentioned too in a DOJ antitrust probe against Google for that reason, look it up.
        Brave’s business model is providing an alternative to data slurping for publishers, local ad matching where all parties including the user benefit and where data doesn’t need to be sent to, and analyzed on, outside servers in violation of user privacy like it is today. If Mozilla was a tad bit smarter, they could offer an alternative business model to web creators as well, but alas, I forgot, they need the Google money. Too bad. Sorry organization and sorry excuse for a once great browser at this point.

        > Anyway enjoy writing comments.

        Oh, I did. Debunking your nonsense for the 100th time, never gets old.

  17. Yash said on July 28, 2022 at 3:37 pm
    Reply

    I’ve watched full Premier League matches in Firefox in my Android device(you can’t carry laptop everywhere). So one thing I know is battery and performance ain’t major issue. And my device is new(nine months old so not exactly new in Android realm) but cheap so Firefox won’t have much issues on expensive ones either. The biggest issue on Android for Firefox is it ain’t competing with just Chrome but with Google App as well. Both comes preloaded in every Android device outside of China. Take a look at many tweets posted everyday. In most of them involving screenshots you can clearly notice Google App was the source. You can’t realistically compete against that.

    However adding uBlock Origin in default state is a good idea. Since user share isn’t a major factor, why not introduce features which will benefit atleast those who use Firefox and who haven’t used uBO yet.

  18. Anonymous said on July 28, 2022 at 4:14 pm
    Reply

    There are only two ways Firefox will be able to eke out a continued existence:
    1) Everyone in the Mozilla Foundation needs to be fired and replaced with people who respected what Firefox used to be good at.

    But since that will never happen:
    2) Mozilla switches Firefox’s engine to Chrome/Chromium. They get to exist a little while longer, but the internet suffers for it with Google holding the complete monopoly on the internet like what Microsoft used to have.

    1. Iron Heart said on July 28, 2022 at 6:01 pm
      Reply

      @Anonymous

      > complete monopoly on the internet like what Microsoft used to have

      Open source can never be a monopoly. Chromium is licensed in a way that will always make forks of the code possible, plus Google profits from outside contributions, so having it open source is also a PRO to them. Mozilla having its own engine, supposedly to fight user-hostile web standards coming from Google, is not in any way better than someone forking Chromium and disabling support for said user-hostile web standards. It amounts to the same thing, with the same drawbacks.

      Internet Explorer needed to be toppled because nobody except Microsoft had any insight into the code. Well, because of that, and because it was just a genuinely shitty product for a long time. I believe Chromium will be dominant for an extended period of time and that there will always be user-first forks of the code.

  19. erotavlas said on July 28, 2022 at 4:41 pm
    Reply

    Hi,
    there is already a bug open on bugzilla, could you vote for it and add it to the article https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1638808.
    Where did you find that https://privacytests.org is run by a brave employee?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on July 28, 2022 at 5:34 pm
      Reply

      It is revealed on the about page: https://privacytests.org/about.html

    2. Iron Heart said on July 28, 2022 at 5:37 pm
      Reply

      @erotavlas

      https://privacytests.org/about.html

      “Full disclosure and transparency” section.

      Not sure why it’s important though, the things tested seem sensible and Firefox is not only beaten by Brave, but also by others (Safari, Bromite, Ungoogled Chromium etc.).

      1. Shiva said on July 29, 2022 at 3:32 pm
        Reply

        @Iron Heart
        “Not sure why it’s important though”

        It is a matter of professionalism. Usually when publishing a scientific paper there is a section that includes a competing interests statement. After that, transparency resides on how the tests are done (‘Methods’) to give a way for those with expertise to verify and reproduce the results.

        PS: I don’t seem to see all that much difference between Firefox and Brave, perhaps by default settings. But I have stopped caring about those users who don’t put any effort into it.

      2. Iron Heart said on July 29, 2022 at 4:23 pm
        Reply

        @Shiva

        > It is a matter of professionalism.

        I know that too. The thing is, when this is brought up, people usually want to maliciously imply that the things tested favor Brave, which I don’t think is the case here. The specific things tested seem very generic to me and default Firefox does comparatively poorly.

        Defaults matter, by the way. I am laughing about people who think e.g. being the 1 person out of 10.000 persons to disable WebGL somehow makes them more private. Nope. That’s not how it works. If anything, you stick out like a sore thumb. Firefox users create highly unique setups that do not fix anything at all. Defaults are the most important thing in the age of fingerprinting where adversaries try to make out if and in how far your setup differs from others.

      3. Shiva said on July 29, 2022 at 5:51 pm
        Reply

        @Iron Heart
        I do not recall reading any insinuations related to this, if there were any they would be wrong unless there were solid arguments about the methods used such as to suggest a loss of impartiality.

        Certainly what stands out from the test is the difference between Firefox and Librewolf and I suppose (but am not sure) that this depends in large part on the same settings within user.js as well as having the default strict mode.

        WebGL is one of many available parameters and I doubt it makes a difference in this test (Librewolf added a dedicated option to disable\enable it). You can override it and to some extent there is always RFP if enabled.
        What users guess is not valid argument when reading that test, it is of interest instead what parameters were taken into account.

        So, on PrivacyTest one might ask at a very least:
        – when was the last time it was done based on the default changes in the various browsers (e.g., strict mode). It seems to me that the test is updated often;
        – what parameters make a difference (RFP? Total Cookie Protection? Always HTTPS?);
        – look for maybe an expert discussion about it to understand what you are reading and what you missed (as the same as the ‘commentary’ available for scientific paper);
        – there would also be the question about using additional extensions (I may be wrong but uBlock is mentioned here for this as well).

        Instead, what is the best approach for tracking and finterprinting? What do I know! But as a Firefox user I spend a little bit of time to improve a few parameters if available. Same for Android.

  20. Tachy said on July 28, 2022 at 4:44 pm
    Reply

    Why use a fork for soup?

    I use AdblockPlus Browser.

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.adblockplus.browser

    1. Iron Heart said on July 28, 2022 at 6:11 pm
      Reply

      @Tachy

      https://digiday.com/media/know-dont-know-adblock-plus-whitelist/

      Ad networks pay Adblock Plus for getting whitelisted and Adblock Plus literally makes money with their adblocker not working as it should. Avoid this like the plague.

      Firefox (better: Fennec F-Droid) + uBlock Origin or Kiwi + uBlock Origin (which is what I recommend) work much better and block more ads.

  21. Tony said on July 28, 2022 at 5:12 pm
    Reply

    The reason for Chrome popularity is because all of the people that pick the first thing that pops up and don’t bother finding another browser. Most people that have phones are ignorant to what they actually have and don’t realize that they could have better.

    There is no way for Firefox to compete in that regard. Adding features in order to compete is playing the wrong game. But by all means, do add features for us that know better.

    1. m3city said on July 29, 2022 at 8:49 am
      Reply

      Exactly. Most users dont need anything else, don’t know there can be an alternative browser, don’t care about quality and agenda of a product.

  22. martinkem said on July 28, 2022 at 9:49 pm
    Reply

    Wouldn’t that drive web developers further away from Firefox? If you might harder for them to monetize their work while would they put in the effort to ensure that their websites work well with Firefox.

  23. g said on July 28, 2022 at 11:12 pm
    Reply

    Lmao Firefox Android is a joke, it has literally total of 7 addons.

    1. Ray said on July 31, 2022 at 7:31 pm
      Reply

      7 > 0

  24. Richard said on July 29, 2022 at 11:54 am
    Reply

    I’m still on Firefox 68.xx for the large number of quality of life features that were removed by the code change which brought about the current abomination of a mobile browser.

    Mozilla seem blinded to the fact that thay are constantly pushing out user base hostile changes which is reducing their user base which gives them less negotiating position with Google.

    Integrating an adblocker isn’t really going to improve that when it can be and is expected to be installable anyway, however, allowing developers from outside the company to change the browser to provide customisation and differentiation is what would be needed to bring people back but that would be a hard slog when they f***ed those same developers over multiple times already. They could then add their own customisation on top to round out the package but my impression is that the Mozilla devs want less code to look after not more.

  25. Aluminum said on July 29, 2022 at 10:02 pm
    Reply

    It already exists it’s called Firefox Focus. Few people use it, probably lower in Android market share than even Brave. Chrome comes pre-installed with Android and can’t be removed without root so most people just use that.

    Google should be investigated for anti-trust. MS got in trouble about 20+ years ago for bundling IE with Windows. Why does Google get a pass?

    1. Iron Heart said on July 30, 2022 at 8:40 am
      Reply

      @Aluminium

      > it’s called Firefox Focus

      It’s called shitty adblocking compared to uBlock Origin or Brave.

      > probably lower in Android market share than even Brave

      LOL, get a grip. 60+ million users, third most downloaded browser on Android:

      https://www.digitalinformationworld.com/2021/11/chrome-opera-brave-data-figures-reveal.html

      https://brave.com/2021-recap/

      Brave did handily beat the main Firefox on Android, I am sure it left the even more irrelevant “Focus” variant in the dust years ago.

      > Google should be investigated for anti-trust

      Mozilla would strongly disagree with you:

      https://blog.mozilla.org/en/mozilla/mozilla-reaction-to-u-s-v-google/

      > Why does Google get a pass?

      Because Google doesn’t have a monopoly on mobile. There is Apple with around 20% market share, making it a duopoly.

      1. Aluminum said on July 30, 2022 at 11:51 am
        Reply

        “> Google should be investigated for anti-trust

        Mozilla would strongly disagree with you:

        https://blog.mozilla.org/en/mozilla/mozilla-reaction-to-u-s-v-google/

        > Why does Google get a pass?

        Because Google doesn’t have a monopoly on mobile. There is Apple with around 20% market share, making it a duopoly.”

        For someone that doesn’t have a pro-Google agenda, you sure spend a lot of time defending Google.

      2. Iron Heart said on July 30, 2022 at 3:21 pm
        Reply

        @Aluminium

        > For someone that doesn’t have a pro-Google agenda, you sure spend a lot of time defending Google.

        Just stop being factually wrong. :-D

        Where did I defend Google, exactly? I just said it how it is.

        Perhaps you should read the piece where Mozilla says that the DOJ should not hit Google with antitrust investigations and then return to me. Clean up your own house before you poo-poo others.

  26. Arpan said on July 30, 2022 at 9:01 am
    Reply

    Firefox Android would be a much much better browser, if they just add a webpage translation tool within the browser.

  27. Karl said on July 30, 2022 at 2:24 pm
    Reply

    @IH being not pro Google

    “I am not Pro-Google, if I were, I would use Chrome and avoid adblockers to maximize their profits. Your claim is as silly as saying that someone using GrapheneOS, which is based on Android, is being pro-Google. It doesn’t get any sillier than that, I suppose.”

    Also @IH using mental gymnastics to say Google is not a monopoly

    “> Google should be investigated for anti-trust

    Mozilla would strongly disagree with you:

    https://blog.mozilla.org/en/mozilla/mozilla-reaction-to-u-s-v-google/

    > Why does Google get a pass?

    Because Google doesn’t have a monopoly on mobile. There is Apple with around 20% market share, making it a duopoly.”

    80/20 is not a duopoly

    Again @IH winning the gold medal for mental gymnastics

    “Open source can never be a monopoly. Chromium is licensed in a way that will always make forks of the code possible, plus Google profits from outside contributions, so having it open source is also a PRO to them.”

    1. Iron Heart said on July 30, 2022 at 3:24 pm
      Reply

      @Karl

      > Also @IH using mental gymnastics to say Google is not a monopoly

      Yeah, because it isn’t. With 80% market share you are not a monopoly, there is a 20% market share competitor around (mobile OSes). With browsers, Google has two main competitors, Safari and Firefox. None of that can be called a monopoly right now.

      > Again @IH winning the gold medal for mental gymnastics

      Being accurate in my wording is not “mental gymnastics”. The mobile OS market is a duopoly, look up the term before you return to me with new ridiculous claims. Monopoly means 100% market share or at least somewhere very close to this.

  28. Monopoly said on July 31, 2022 at 1:42 pm
    Reply

    > Yeah, because it isn’t.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monopoly#Characteristics

    Yeah it is. Do not pass GO, do not collect $200

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