According to Mozilla, Firefox Quantum is the most major revamp of the browser since Firefox 1.0 was released back in 2004. We have been closely following the developments in Firefox Quantum, as well as the developments in Mozilla Firefox for Android. In September, we saw Firefox Quantum arriving in the beta channel, along with the new Photon UI.
In November, Firefox Quantum was released for Windows, Mac, and Linux in version 57. However, Firefox for Android did not contain the new Quantum CSS engine. It did contain the new Photon UI. This meant that although version 57 for Android had gained a new UI, it had not gained any actual speed updates. Firefox for Android had longstanding performance issues, so this was disappointing to see. Mozilla intended for the Quantum CSS engine to arrive in Firefox 59 for Android.
Unfortunately, that didn’t pan out. Mozilla Firefox 59 stable was released this week, and it does not contain the new Quantum CSS engine. Instead, it allows Firefox to act as an Assist App, and brings support for HLS video playback. Unfortunately, the lack of the Quantum CSS engine means that the Android version has a significant performance deficit relative to Firefox 59 for desktop.
However, Firefox for Android users won’t have to wait a long time for the Quantum CSS engine to arrive. Firefox 60 beta for Android has been released and it contains the Quantum CSS engine. This should result in it being significantly faster than older Firefox versions, although we have not yet had a chance to try this out. The new beta also brings a new view source option in the page menu.
The improvements in Firefox Quantum are based on the experimental new Servo engine. Firefox Quantum is said to be 2x faster than year-old Firefox versions on the Speedometer benchmark, so if the Android version retains these performance improvements, Firefox for Android has a serious chance to become the fastest Android web browser.
Recently, Mozilla Firefox for Android has gained other improvements as well. Version 58 gained support for Progressive Web Apps (PWAs), and the Photon UI arrived in Firefox 57. The remaining part of the puzzle – the Quantum CSS engine – promises huge speed improvements. Firefox users on Android can look forward to version 60 arriving in the stable channel in the coming weeks.