Firefox for Android will soon support all extensions
After years of waiting, Firefox for Android users may soon install any browser extension in the mobile browser. When Mozilla launched a redesigned Firefox web browser for Android, it limited extensions to a small subset. While the elite group of extensions included important add-ons such as uBlock Origin or Tampermonkey, it lacked support for thousands of Firefox add-ons the previous version supported.
Granted, not all desktop extensions worked in the classic mobile Firefox browser, but thousands worked. Mozilla added a handful of extensions to the illustrious list over the years, but failed to realize the full potential until today. The organization did hint at the possibility of unlocking the extensions system in late 2022.
Now comes the announcement from Mozilla that it has made the decision to unlock Firefox for Android's extensions system. Instead of giving users the choice of a few dozen extensions, Mozilla plans to give all extension developers the option to create and release extensions for Firefox for the Android operating system.
The organization explains that it used the years to strengthen Firefox for Android's functionality and "build the infrastructure necessary to support an open extension ecosystem on Firefox for Android". It also claims that it used the time to understand "the unique needs of mobile browser users".
The change will land in Firefox for Android before the end of the year according to Mozilla's announcement. Mozilla suggests that developers start optimizing their extensions for Firefox for Android in the coming months.
Developers should consider transitioning extensions from using persistent backgrounds to non-persistent Event pages, as this improves the stability of extensions in Firefox for Android. Mozilla reveals further that it has switched on multi-process support in Firefox for Android Nightly, and that this means that extensions won't be hosted in the main Firefox process going forward.
Android's process management may shut down resource-intensive processes, and that is a danger for browser extensions and the reason why Mozilla is suggesting that developers switch to non-persistent Event pages.
Mozilla provides guidelines and support, and a good place to start is the blog post on the Mozilla website, as it contains a list of suggestions and links to resources.
Mozilla expects that the introduction of full add-ons support will increase the attractiveness of Firefox for Android. The change adds a unique feature to Firefox for Android, at least when compared to the other major browsers available for the operating system.
It is too early to tell if this could help rejuvenate Firefox for Android and help it increase its usage share on the platform. There are still other restrictions in place, such as blocked access to about:config, that is limiting the mobile browser.
All in all though, it is a welcome change as it gives Firefox users on Android numerous possibilities to change how they use the browser.
Now You: with extensions support coming, will you give Firefox for Android another chance?