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Mozilla Brings Privacy-Focused Browser to Android

After making it available for iOS devices in November 2016, Mozilla this week brought its privacy-focused mobile browser to Android.

Called Firefox Focus, the application is designed to address the various threats to user privacy that loom on the web, while also providing users with a fast, free, and easy-to-use browsing experience.

On iOS, the browser currently enjoys a 4.6 average rating on the App Store, making it “the highest rated browser from a trusted brand for the iPhone and iPad,” Mozilla says.

The main feature of the browser is to block ad, analytics, social, and various other trackers, without requiring users to change their settings. Because of that, it can provide users with increased control on how their online activities are tracked on their devices, regardless of whether they surf the Internet from a smartphone or tablet.

The Android version packs the very same features, and is “free of tabs and other visual clutter,” Mozilla’s Barbara Bermes reveals. The same as the iOS counterpart, the application allows users to browse the web without being followed by tracking ads, thus also offering a faster experience.

Additionally, the browser features an easily accessible “Erase” button that allows users to clear the browsing session data with a single tap. All of the privacy enhancements in Firefox Focus, Mozilla says, are available without requiring users to modify their settings.

“Browse like no one’s watching. The new Firefox Focus automatically blocks a wide range of online trackers — from the moment you launch it to the second you leave it. Easily erase your history, passwords and cookies, so you won’t get followed by things like unwanted ads,” Mozilla notes in the browser’s description in Google Play.

According to Bermes, Firefox Focus for Android comes with some additional features, such as an ad tracker counter (to see how many ads are blocked per site), the option to disable tracker blocker (for sites that are not loading correctly), and a notification reminder (it reminds users they can easily tap to erase the browsing history while the browser runs in the background).

“For Android users we also made Focus a great default browser experience. 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,” Bermes continues.

The browser, she notes, was meant to empower users on the mobile web, and is expected to receive new features that will improve the experience it provides.

Chrome is currently the uncontested leader in the browser market, but Mozilla’s privacy-focused application could impact its dominance, Chris Olson, CEO of The Media Trust, told SecurityWeek in an emailed statement.

“It will be interesting to see how this latest Firefox browser will impact Chrome's dominance of the browser market. In attempts to differentiate itself with default ad blocking, Firefox is potentially alienating partners in the hopes of driving user adoption. It remains to be seen how many users disable the ad block feature as many of the world's most heavily-trafficked websites won't load properly on mobile devices when an ad blocker is active,” Olson said.

Firefox Focus for Android is available via Google Play, while the iOS version can be downloaded through the App Store.

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