back to article If you think Mozilla pushed a broken Firefox Android build, good news: It didn't. Bad news: It's working as intended

An update to the Android flavor of Firefox left fuming punters thinking a bad experimental build had been pushed to their smartphones. In fact, this was a deliberate software release. A Reg reader yesterday alerted us to an August 20 version bump that was causing so many problems, our tipster thought it was a beta that had …

  1. IGotOut Silver badge
    FAIL

    Already posted one star review

    In light mode can only just about make out icons at bottom.

    Lost defaut search (Startpage)

    Lost history.

    Reset all my preferences (home page setting etc)

    Ghostery no longer works

    And that's what I found messed up in the first five minutes.

    A cluster fuck of design.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Already posted one star review

      Try F-Droid Fennec, if they've got any sense they won't update it any more than 68.11.0.

      The only problem is getting your bookmarks and extensions back if you don't use Firefox Sync, fortunately the new UI will let you select and share bookmarks which is an improvement (as is the address bar at the bottom).

      Now that they've fired everyone, I'm not sure Mozilla are in a position to return support for the majority of addons they've disabled.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Already posted one star review

        "The only problem is getting your bookmarks and extensions back if you don't use Firefox Sync"

        They were balmy to think I'd store my bookmarks and data with them. I work on way too many projects that are legitimate but scare the pants off of failed lawyers (politicians).

        I use Safari plus VPN for my white bread and jam stuff and Tor for everything else. I have a bookmark manager rather than using the bookmarking feature in either browser. These days everybody is harvesting your data, so the less you feed them the better off you are.

  2. Blofeld's Cat Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Unfortunate ...

    I have been a contented Firefox user for many years, but my experience with this upgrade has made me consider the previously unthinkable step of switching to Chrome on my phone.

    For some reason the phrase "New Coke" comes to mind ...

    1. Yeti

      Re: Unfortunate ...

      Try Bromite instead. It's Chromium fork with adblocker. I'm quite happy with that so far.

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Unfortunate ...

      Try Brave, you'll thank me.

      1. botski@comcast.net

        Re: Unfortunate ...

        Spot on. I've used Brave for years - good browser.

      2. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

        Re: Unfortunate ...

        It has no UX and it shows it's own ads.

      3. Oh Homer
        Mushroom

        Re: Unfortunate ...

        The problem with recommending alternative browsers, every time Mozilla screws up, is that invariably the main reason users are complaining is because their addons are broken, and switching to another browser really won't help them.

        In my case it's MetaMask, a cryptocurrency wallet, and as far as I know Firefox is the only mobile browser supported ... or rather it was until today.

        Let me be crystal clear, Mozilla: your browser is utterly useless to me unless it supports the addons I need. It's literally just a delivery vehicle for my addons. The browser itself is irrelevant. I don't want Firefox, I want MetaMask. The sole reason I use Firefox is because it's the only mobile browser supported by MetaMask and the other addons I need. Period.

        If you break the API, and thus break the addons, you've created something that is about as useful to me as a chocolate teapot. I'm sure the technical improvements under the hood are impressive, but that means nothing when the sole reason for using that browser is something that no longer works.

        I'm also trying to figure out why you blatantly lied about it not being possible to roll back to a working version, especially since you host that and all previous versions on your own ftp site. I just tried it. It works. Why wouldn't it?

        Sorry Mozilla, but the "release early, release often, break always" strategy just isn't working.

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Unfortunate ...

          "Sorry Mozilla, but the "release early, release often, break always" strategy just isn't working."

          When something has matured to the point where it's solid, there is no need to keep playing with it as much. Much better to build a completely new product. eBay does this all of the time. They come out with new layouts that eat up more screen space and delete the best features. No real reason for it. They just turned some 20 somethings loose. As a seller, I want consistency so I can log in, post things for sale quickly and get out. I need functionality, not bling. I also don't want my desktop experience to mimic the frustrating mobile version.

          Release software when it's done and always leave the option to roll back. What if some big company such as Dow Chemical was using addons necessary to their employee workflow and an update borked their whole set up? Now think of 5 o 6 such companies where a an addon maker had sold their products. All of those employees would see Firefox as the enemy as they'd fall way behind on their quarterly, annual, monthly goals and miss out on bonuses and not be able to get their work done on time and in good order. I am always thinking about what I would do if..... I'm old enough to have plenty of software go away completely when an OS broke it and the company decided it didn't have the money to revamp their software. I've had computers go Tango Uniform on me or my internet connection go down at a critical point. Back up plans are crucial.

        2. Mark Wallace

          Re: Unfortunate ...

          Yours is a classic case of mistakenly believing that you know what you want better than programmers do.

          Every programmer knows that programmers are the smartest people on the planet, and that anyone who disagrees with them about absolutely anything is a complete idiot (even other programmers).

          They even have a term for your mistaken belief: "YAGNI" ("You Ain't Gonna Need It"), and I'm sure that if you tell the FF programmers that you need MetaTask, they will be happy to correct you.

          And if you think that they should have waited until they had an actiual, working browser, before releasing it, well you're obviously wrong again -- it's only other programmers who have to release working software (if they don't want to get endlessly and publicly bitched at by netscape/firefox programmers),

          Their attitude is why netscape lost the browser wars, and why I'm on the verge of giving up on using the desktop version of FF (netscape's illegitimate child) for the second time -- its programmers decided that nesting "Close other tabs" and "Close tabs to the right" under "Close multiple tabs" is what I want.

          That's a little thing by comparison, to be sure, but it reminds me of their unwarranted arrogance each of the fifty-or-so times a day I have to make that extra mouse-move and click.

          Fortunately, what we don't have is a shortage of other browsers to choose from.

  3. Dave K Silver badge

    Thank goodness I have auto-updating of apps on my Android phone disabled. I usually update them from time to time manually. I guess Firefox is one that will be left alone for now until this mess is sorted, or until I've had enough and moved elsewhere.

    1. seven of five Silver badge

      Oi, I was queued for 79 already, but (luckily) have no wifi in the office. Now that was a close shave. There is no internet without adblock.

      1. Dave K Silver badge

        Precisely one of the main reasons I use Firefox on my phone - too many websites that are otherwise unusable without it. The alternative if Mozilla can't get their shit together I guess is to check out alternatives such as Vivaldi Mobile.

      2. Dan 55 Silver badge

        uBlock is one of the few supported add-ons.

      3. ThatOne Silver badge

        > There is no internet without adblock.

        Fortunately they have at least allowed uBlock Origin and NoScript.

        1. HildyJ Silver badge
          Holmes

          Also Ghostery and PrivacyBadger.

          And the 8 original supported addons are already up to 11. Mozilla seems to be slowly delivering on their goal to support all desktop addons on Android.

          Not to mention the Enhanced Tracking Protection that is baked in and customizable.

    2. logicalextreme Silver badge

      Unfortunately I've found the Play Store (don't remember this ever happening when it was the Market) is occasionally wont to mysteriously forget that I've told it that every few months and start downloading automatically. I'd make sure you have a copy of the last good APK handy just in case.

      1. Lennart Sorensen

        I guess apkmirror can come in handy for that. Installing firefox 68 from there seems to be no problem.

        1. Novex

          Exactly what I did immediately after I manually did the update. This new version, while it might be faster, has lost too much that I require. When mozilla can figure out fixing the new version without trying to be so damn revolutionary with their changes, I'll update. Evolution, not revolution.

        2. Snake Silver badge

          backup apps

          There are a variety of backup apps in the App Store that allow you to archive your own APK selection. I would recommend those rather than depend upon an external resource serving APK's with unknown provenance.

          I use MyBackup personally.

    3. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Auto-updating of apps is annoying if you're using the app at the time.

      It's bad enough that things can bomb out if google decides to update GMS without your knowledge.

      I've not updated firefox yet - but I was bitten by a crappy product "upgrade" for some other app a few years ago, so now auto-backup all apks and associated obb's etc.) - there's been quite a few I've had to force downgrade.. You know, the type:

      Some app comes out with some useful features. Over time, more and more is added. Suddenly they bump up the ads, or increase the cost, and suddenly you're expected to pay more for bling and "features" you never wanted in the first place. -- And I pay for apps that I use, but even some of them have been guilty of switching to a "pay++" model where you are nagged to pay again for stuff you don't want.

      Bleugh.

      1. iGNgnorr

        "...even some of them have been guilty of switching to a "pay++" model where you are nagged to pay again for stuff you don't want."

        Or switch to a new owner and/or to in-app payments and want you to pay for it again. This is usually accompanied by non-improvements. (e.g. AquaMail or Solitaire Megapack.)

  4. Forget It
    Unhappy

    No home grown add-ons possible

    I can no longer demo my work on an Android browser of any kind

    since this Frefox 'update' disabled all but a chosen handful of web-extension add-ons.

  5. wegie

    Phew! Just in time to let me turn off auto-updating. It was sitting there ready to go...

  6. nematoad Silver badge
    Unhappy

    An alternative?

    I don't have a mobile 'phone so cannot speak from experience but Palemoon, a fork of Firefox, is available for PCs. Is it available for mobiles? On a PC Palemoon will accept many Firefox extensions and being based on Firefox retains most of the look and feel of a pre-Australis Firefox.

    I did see, when I was using a tablet, that there was some form of Palemoon available but it seemed to be quite limited and being unable to get any applications that worked without Google's involvement I gave up using said appliance.

    It would be a shame if Mozilla went the way of so many other developers and unilaterally decided that they know what is best for their users.

    1. Dave K Silver badge

      Re: An alternative?

      Palemoon was available on Android for a while, but I don't think it was a development priority and may have been dropped more recently. A pity as I do use Palemoon as my primary browser on the PC and quite like it.

      Besides it isn't the first time Mozilla have done this. It was the hideous "Australis" refresh of Firefox that drove me to Palemoon in the first place...

      1. nematoad Silver badge

        Re: An alternative?

        "It was the hideous "Australis" refresh of Firefox that drove me to Palemoon in the first place..."

        Yes, me too. It does seem as if Mozilla has some form of death-wish. Still, with FLOSS we do have a choice, which is something that Mozilla, Google and others would do well to remember

        1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

          Re: An alternative?

          Yes, me too. It does seem as if Mozilla has some form of death-wish. Still, with FLOSS we do have a choice, which is something that Mozilla, Google and others would do well to remember

          Well, maybe, maybe not. These days the status is quite simple; ****ALL BROWSERS SUCK****. Each one will have it's own particular flavour of suckiness, but in general ALL browsers are shite. And the ones that aren't crap because of user-hostile refactoring and UI changes end up having little to no support (from abandonment, lack of dev support, or incompatible changes in whatever codebases they depend on).

          1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

            Re: An alternative?

            I agree about the browsers, but unfortunately, it's apps in general.

            Stupid changes made to add "bling" with no way to disable things. Options and preference controls removed to "make things easier".

            I've been quite depressed with the whole GUI and app scene the last few years. I would pay thousands for a desktop I'd actually be happy with. I currently arse around with three different systems because none of them do what I want.

            Everythings been "consumerised". I'm not being elitist,I just want some things to allow me to retain some level of sophistication and control.

            </it was all fields in my day>

    2. MJI Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: An alternative?

      Sorry no PaleMoon, I looked there first.

    3. AK565

      Re: An alternative?

      "It would be a shame if Mozilla went the way of so many other developers and unilaterally decided that they know what is best for their users."

      Exactly. They think they know best yet are nearly always wrong. It makes me wonder how well I'm actually being tracked, lol. Features I use disappear and those I don't are 'enhanced'. I don't bother any more. I just switch to an alternative or I drop it all together. One of the main reasons Facebook lost me was that they kept undoing all my tweaks.

  7. David Roberts

    Just in time?

    Read this and turned off auto update.

    1. David Roberts

      Re: Just in time?

      Have just finished prompting nearest and dearest to also turn off auto update.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Just in time?

      at least you CAN turn it off... for now...

      Shades of what they did when AUSTRALIS rolled out.

      Don't they LEARN? (apparently NOT)

      icon, because, facepalm

  8. Alan J. Wylie

    Cookie Autodelete and uBlock Origin are both on the "recommended" list, but not uMatrix. If Mozilla are so keen on privacy, why is it missing?

    Auto-update disabled.

    1. Eric.R.

      If they were keen on privacy they wouldnt be jamming in trackers for starters (Adjust, Google AdMob, Google Firebase Analytics, LeanPlum) I dont know another browser thats this bad.

      Then theres the ever growing telemetry infestation which you cannot really turn off. Pocket and Collections now wired into Activity-Stream spying which connects out even if you turn it all off. The UI nudges you to topsites and collections for data harvesting, monetization reasons.

      They are all about monetization now, its not safe to keep using firefox.

  9. DrXym Silver badge

    Positives and negative experiences

    Good:

    - The new interface is a lot slicker than the old one and a lot of thought appears to have gone into it

    - Hamburger menu is decluttered

    - Rendering and layout seems a lot smoother

    - Built-in QR code scanner

    - More tracking / privacy enabled

    Bad:

    - Open tabs view shows them as a big long list instead of thumbnails so it takes more vertical space to list them. Needs an option to switch views.

    - All the animations such as when a menu shows or tabs are shown are cute but rapidly become the cause of brain farts. Needs an option to turn them off

    - Trying to stop a page loading has become terrible. When a page is loading you would expect a stop button but it's buried in the hamburger menu. Why isn't it in the url bar when loading?

    - Landscape mode doesn't show more toolbar buttons which have plenty of space to be shown, such as the stop button or back/forward.

    - Creating a privacy tab requires more taps, or secret knowledge of a long press

    So I can see which way they're going and maybe it will improve a bit in subsequent updates but they made a mess of it. At the very least they should have had a welcome screen which explained some of the changes and smooth over the upgrade shock.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Positives and negative experiences

      The built-in QR code scanner is not good, it means you need to give the camera permission to the browser instead of a separate app which doesn't use the Internet like Barcode Scanner.

      There is an option buried in privacy settings to upload usage to a mobile advertising partner, make sure that's turned off.

      Also some features now take more than one tap making them more fiddly, including opening a private tab. The address bar at the bottom is good, removing the option to turn off auto-hiding the address bar isn't as that means you need to scroll before the address bar appears.

      1. DrXym Silver badge

        Re: Positives and negative experiences

        Firefox already had the permissions for camera / microphone. You can always say no when the app asks for initial permission to do it or manually turn it off if you inadvertantly enable it.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Positives and negative experiences

          Well, that's the point, before you could leave the camera permission for Barcode Scanner on and Firefox off. Now you have to mess around with it in Firefox if you use the QR scanner.

          1. DrXym Silver badge

            Re: Positives and negative experiences

            And my point is that Firefox (and other browsers) already have a camera permission. It wasn't added in this release, it was there already. And the reason is protocols like WebRTC.

            The permission is off by default and only turns on when you assent to turning it on. And you can turn it back off again. You can complain about this permission being there but it was already there.

    2. ThatOne Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Positives and negative experiences

      > they should have had a welcome screen which explained some of the changes

      Or they could have waited and only released it once it's finished. It's not like they need any immediate sales to stay afloat...

      "Hey, we switched your car with a new one, it's much better except there is no glass in the windows yet (TBD), the trunk hasn't been assembled yet (TBD), the seats need cushions (TBD) and you now steer with the feet, like in a plane! Cool, huh?"

      Seriously, since it took them 8 months to implement 9 extensions and their blurb doesn't even mention the issue, I definitely won't be holding my breath for the rest of them appearing. This sounds to me like a typical case of the smart "we'll just wait till the lusers forget" strategy. Sure, it's not like there is any competition out there or Firefox is struggling to stay relevant. *sigh*

      1. eionmac

        Re: Positives and negative experiences

        Good. On opening after upgrade I got along screen with details of all changes and references to longer articles on the change. Maybe you scrolled into action to fast and bypassed the 'upgrade notes.

        I find it a refreshing change.

        1. Sok Puppette

          Re: Positives and negative experiences

          I shouldn't have to read the "upgrade notes", because nothing should ever change just because it's "refreshing". Incremental UX changes that actually make it easier to get things done are good. Sweeping changes that move some things around, completely lose others, add very little, and force people to waste time learning a new-but-not-better way, are not good.

          1. ThatOne Silver badge

            Re: Positives and negative experiences

            > Sweeping changes that move some things around

            Microsoft has delighted its users by doing this, introducing them to the hilarious game of "there the heck did the hide that setting this time?", and apparently Mozilla felt they had to do as much.

            Or did their reasoning go along the lines of "we have a fairly well-working product which needs some polishing and some additional features the desktop version has - So let's bin the whole thing and create something new, totally different looking, with much less functionality"?

            Seriously, what life-or-death problem does moving the address bar from top to bottom solve? It's purely a (cosmetic) change for a change's sake. Next version it will probably be on the side, vertically. Cool! That's so postmodern!

      2. DrXym Silver badge

        Re: Positives and negative experiences

        "Finished" doesn't apply any more since things are iterative. I don't like some of the new behaviour but I think it qualifies as a MVP release and hope they undergo more refinement.

        1. ThatOne Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Positives and negative experiences

          > "Finished" doesn't apply any more since things are iterative

          Sorry, but "the journey is more important than the destination" does not apply to software. A program is a tool, and a tool has a purpose, period. Either it serves that purpose, or it doesn't, if you need to search for enlightenment feel free to check your phone book for local gurus.

          (Didn't downvote you though.)

          1. Getmo

            Re: Positives and negative experiences

            My job is currently in process of implementing Agile company-wide, (so manglement will probably be overly zealous about it for a time) I can't help but think about this war against waterfall.

            Someone else already said it: evolutionary, not revolutionary. Even when doing iterative development, you can still make revolutionary changes, as we can see (just like with waterfall, we can make evolutionary changes). I get why people like Agile and why it's useful, everybody (not just devs) get to participate in the process, and change direction of the project if requirements change.

            But can't help but think this has caused people to forget some of the key features of good-ol' waterfall method. Mainly: what's the end-game here, boys? Agile, taken purely at face value, would have you think the goal is continuous, endless development. There's not enough exit conditions in the Agile loop. At least waterfall has a very clear start and end point.

            When you don't think about "What's the FINAL version of our product going to look like?" you start to see these software projects go off the rails with these radical re-designs and changes, like nobody raised their hand to ask why we're fixing stuff that isn't broken.

            1. DrXym Silver badge

              Re: Positives and negative experiences

              The answer is there is no end game. Agile means iterative changes and minimum viable product. Subsequent releases backfill on functionality and refine it. I had a bunch of complaints to make about the release that went out but I expect they'll be resolved over time. Some people either can't comprehend this fact or would rather that the releases exactly conform to their expectations. The real world isn't like that.

          2. DrXym Silver badge

            Re: Positives and negative experiences

            Bzzt no. Mobile apps these days are iterative. And even on the desktop too. So while I have huge issues with the new Firefox (that I listed) I find it the reaction to my comment to be absurd and pathetic. If the idea of change and perfection is such a big deal, then find some long LTS release of something, install it and then never whine about anything new again ever. Otherwise just deal with it and stop being such a baby. Especially when you got that software for nothing.

    3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Positives and negative experiences

      Good summary, though I'd add that the option to have the URL at the top or bottom is good, as is optional support for dark mode. I do miss the history from the start screen but apparently an option for this is coming back.

      Mozilla has been trailing the update for a while though without much detail.

      Certainly does feel slicker.

    4. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

      Re: Positives and negative experiences

      - All the animations such as when a menu shows or tabs are shown are cute but rapidly become the cause of brain farts. Needs an option to turn them off

      Animations are usually the first thing I turn off on any new device, because these suck CPU and battery, and things take a tad longer to finish.

    5. dubious

      Re: Positives and negative experiences

      I blocked it but have been trialling the beta, and in the same way as when I was trialing w10, I can't believe they went ahead.

      Is 'view source' avaliable yet? Has anyone managed to track down a way to kill the awful animations?

    6. srmalloy

      Re: Positives and negative experiences

      More bad:

      Closing tab and switching to the next open tab:

      Old: Tap the 'X" on the tab label

      New: Tap the tab-count icon, find your active tab in the list, tap the 'X' on the right edge of the screen, then tap the entry for the next tab.

      Downloading a file:

      Old: Tap the download link

      New: Tap the download link, wait for the file to save, get a popup asking you if you wanted to download the file, tap the 'Download' button, wait for the file to _really_ save, get a popup asking if you wanted to _open_ the file, tap the 'X" to close the unneeded window.

      The bookmarks screen used to have a search function letting you enter part of the bookmark name to filter a long list of bookmarks. That's gone; you can still enter text into the address bar to get a list of suggestions from both your bookmarks and your history, but the list doesn't tell you whether any given suggestion is a bookmark or a history entry, as it used to.

      The Android system 'back' button replaces the Firefox 'back' button, and the 'forward' button is buried inside the hamburger menu, along with 'reload' and 'bookmark'. If you have opened a page in a new tab, and accidentally hit the 'back' button, you're taken to the Firefox 'New Page' screen -- and the hamburger menu for this page does not have a 'forward' button to take you back. Accidentally, I found that if you open the 'active tabs' page, you can tap the tab you're on _there_ and be taken back to the page you accidentally hit 'back' from. Amazingly intuitive... not.

      There appears to _still_ be no way to export your bookmarks to a file so you can import them to another browser, a lock-in move that feels worthy of the people up at Redmond. You can switch, but you're not taking your bookmarks with you.

  10. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge
    Flame

    I got automatically updated last week and I'm not very happy about it.

  11. xanadu42

    Thought I missed something!

    My Android Tablet had an Android Software Update AND a Firefox Update so I thought it was the Android F**king with me :(

    Not impressed with an interface that looks like it was designed by someone without any experience in designing a UI!

    Hopefully the privacy features haven't been as badly affected (not yet looked) and am dreading !!

    Please, Mozilla, get this fixed ASAP

    1. ChrisC

      Re: Thought I missed something!

      "Not impressed with an interface that looks like it was designed by someone without any experience in designing a UI!"

      Isn't that pretty much par for the course with *any* UI released in the last few years?

      1. AK565

        Re: Thought I missed something!

        +10,000!!!

        That's my single biggest gripe with tho iPhone. All the UI's for text, editing, doc handling, etc. seem to have been designed by people who never had to work with documents.

      2. Mage Silver badge

        Re: par for the course with *any* UI

        Why is everyone using images of slide switches for a check box that's tapped? Also when is it on or off?

        Why Flat?

        It's not like we are running monochrome CGA or Hercules.

    2. Eric.R.

      Re: Thought I missed something!

      The privacy features are moot because it sends a browser id to Adjust, has other trackers (google admob, firebase, leanplumb) compiled into the app. Some reasons for the bad ui is it nudges you to collections, pocket/topsites instead of own local bookmarks, which are wired into activity-stream behind the scenes and uploaded for monetization. As if pocket being absorbed wasnt nefarious enough, we will have to contend with "Pioneer v2 data studies" as well, which is getting wired in and opt-outs probably fiddled with after users forget its there.

    3. Snake Silver badge

      Re: "Get this fixed ASAP"

      Don't hold that breath in anticipation. I've been saying it for years, as an exclusive-Mozilla user: Mozilla has proven itself CLUELESS. They just don't care about end user's experiences, they are completely focused on their own development requirements and users are simply expected to swallow whatever management & developers decide.

      I've had auto-updates turned off for many years. Situations like this prove why. Developers can't be trusted to make sound decisions (see: MyPhoneExplorer's adware, security vulnerabilities due to running services decisions, etc as the example that broke my own back on this topic); too many developers now are myopic and can only see up to their own screens.

  12. IGotOut Silver badge
    WTF?

    This says it all.

    Trying to work how to reset the homepage (or at least how to set it up), no fucking clue.

    So click "Help"

    And here is the page you go to:

    ...

    "Firefox for Android Beta Support"

    ...

    Useless idiots. Maybe stop making the clever people redundant and start getting rid of the idiots that rolled out this mess.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This says it all.

      Useless idiots. Maybe stop making the clever people redundant and start getting rid of the idiots that rolled out this mess.

      Mozilla is following the IBM model of firing the people who actually DO the work, and keeping the middle-managers.

  13. demon driver

    When open source software rollouts come over us with as little regard for how they affect users as we're already used to with monopolist commercial software, it's no wonder that open source developers' statements also sound like monopolists' corporate PR.

    1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

      When open source software rollouts come over us with as little regard for how they affect users as we're already used to with monopolist commercial software, it's no wonder that open source developers' statements also sound like monopolists' corporate PR.

      It's the GNOME model of Open Source development.

  14. EastFinchleyite

    Sideload to restore old version

    For those of you that have had your phone polluted by the new Firefox, I can suggest that you scrub Firefox from the phone then re-install version 68 from an app mirror site such as

    https://www.apkmirror.com/apk/mozilla/firefox/firefox-68-0-release/

    There are other sites such as apkpure.

    Then make sure auto update is turned off.

    This could be Mozilla's try at the longest suicide note in history.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sideload to restore old version

      Oh great. Again. I've used Firefox for donkey's years, but this is just the latest in a litany of balls-ups. On desktop there was Quantum, breaking all the extensions overnight, and that lovely weekend where they remotely disabled add-ons via a deeply suspicious mechanism that they still have access to.

      Every update for me is a voyage into the unknown. How long will I have to spend reconfiguring it to get things back to how I want? Messing about in about:config or userchrome with a bunch of badly-documented settings that only make sense to the developers.

      The android version was pretty stable, but now it turns out that they were just saving all the shit up for one go at it. Can you re-order bookmarks on the bookmarks page in this version at least? Is there even still a bookmarks page? Comments above suggest that it's no longer possible to set bookmarks as the home page...

      I still use it in spite of all this, but Mozilla are bloody hard to like. They've been trying to drive users away for years.

      1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

        Re: trying to drive users away for years

        They already succeeded. Switched to Brave.

        1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

          Re: trying to drive users away for years

          They already succeeded. Switched to Brave.

          But I want a browser that's NOT a chromium-derivative. Firefox as far as I know is the only Android option.

          1. Eric.R.

            Re: trying to drive users away for years

            "Firefox as far as I know is the only Android option"

            which comes with google trackers shoved in and one of the worst privacy track records of any browser ever. Seriously?

    2. NohSpam

      Re: Sideload to restore old version

      I went straight to APKPure and uninstalled 79, reinstalled 68.11.0 and also installed nightly build of 79, which at least still has about:config (to re-enable DNS over HTTPS), which 79 doesn't. What an absolute shambles. Mozilla - drive decisions by user research not feature bingo. And it's definitely not about emasculating Firefox to make it simple to use. Complexity and simplicity can easiliy coexist, as we prove daily with zOS, CICS and other mainframe products.

      Just to be clear, the reason I use Firefox is precisely because of the granular control I can have over what I allow. My aim is to stimey every single arse who thinks it'd be nice to know a bit more about me to sell me stuff I don't want, or try to influence me to deliver their political agenda. Mozilla, WTF are you playing at!

  15. iron Silver badge
    Flame

    I like the ability to have the menu bar at the bottom but who on earth was it designed for? The touch targets are tiny, my fingers are larger than an HB pencil Mozilla!

    Add to that the fact all my add-ons are missing, most notably Ghostery, my start page with links to all my most used sites is gone and the complete lack of usable settings... very, very bad Mozilla. Very bad.

    Later today I'll have to explain the changes to my other half who will probably struggle to see the tiny new menu bar and do what little setup there is available for her.

    1. eionmac

      Seemes to work ok after upgrade.

      All my bookmarks were available including choices of opening including a sub-sub-page in a specific website and my normal sites were bookmarked.

      1. eldakka Silver badge

        Re: Seemes to work ok after upgrade.

        Do you use firefox sync?

        Could it be that users who use sync keep their bookmarks, whereas users who don't, don't?

  16. big_D Silver badge

    Apart from...

    the open tabs view, I haven't noticed much difference to the old version. It looks a little cleaner, but no real major differences so far.

    The two add-ons I use are still there (NoScript and uBlock Origin). If NoScript ever disappears, that will remove the reason not to move to another browser, it is the singe differentiating factor, for me.

  17. Piro

    Just 'downgrade'

    "no, once you’ve upgraded to the new browser, you won’t be able to return to the old browser," Moz says.

    Wrong, thanks to apkmirror.

    Then disable auto-update, and start the search for something better. *sigh*

  18. EastFinchleyite

    Updates vs Upgrades

    Thinking about this mess draws me to the conclusion that the problem is a blurring of the line between Updates and Upgrades.

    Updates should be limited to the underlying nuts and bolts of the software. Adding compatibility for HTML changes and suchlike. One essential characteristic should be that the UI should not be altered unless it is absolutely essential. Even then there should be warnings that enable a user opt out even if auto-updates have been enabled.

    Upgrades are the place for stylistic product changes. Style is almost by definition a subjective matter. I prefer the Classic windows style of page for PCs and eschew any others. That is my choice and I respect others who prefer other paradigms. There should be room for both.

    It annoys me that I have to be smart, to be cunning to avoid the traps and pitfalls arranged by people such as the Mozilla design managers. On a PC I use extensions and CSS style sheets to take the Firefox UI back to the old layour circa version 40. On Android I have had to scrub Firefox and reload/sideload version 68 again (see above).

    It shouldn't be necessary. I shouldn't have to treat Mozilla with suspicion every time they release a new version. I should be persuaded to make donations to them rather than curse them. You may ask why I don't go elsewhere. It's because the rest are worse.

    1. Oh Homer
      Terminator

      Re: Updates vs Upgrades

      I guess the semantics are subjective, but I always assumed an "update" comprised bug fixes, and an "upgrade" was about adding new features.

      In any case, the latest Firefox is neither. It may or may not be a technical improvement, but functionally it's a clusterfsck.

  19. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    FAIL

    "it's the new version of Firefox for Android"

    From what I read here and in the comments, it will also be the last version of Firefox for Android, because everyone is going to move to something else.

    No back button ? WTF ?

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: "it's the new version of Firefox for Android"

      The back button is the usual Android capacitive/soft back button. I can't quite put my finger on it but the behaviour's slightly different though, sometimes the page closes when I'm sure it didn't before.

      1. IGotOut Silver badge

        Re: "it's the new version of Firefox for Android"

        "sometimes the page closes when I'm sure it didn't before."

        If you are on in setting and go back it seems to close, and it appears to close sometimes if you are on the abysmal home page and go back it closes, but you then reopem and still have all the tabs open.

      2. Paul Shirley
        FAIL

        Re: "it's the new version of Firefox for Android"

        ...sometimes (always?) the entire browser closes, instead of switching to another tab!

        Really loving having to drag down to get the menu, click 3dots the click reload. NOT! Idiot UI designers looking for jobs at Microsoft?

      3. Havin_it

        Re: "it's the new version of Firefox for Android"

        For one thing they have removed the "Back list", to wit: a long-press on the (browser or OS) back-button used to bring up a list of the previous pages for the current tab, allowing you to jump back multiple pages. Now it doesn't :(

        Just my first severe pet-peeve after half an hour's cursory exploration. More to come, I'm sure.

        1. TheRealRoland
          Unhappy

          Re: "it's the new version of Firefox for Android"

          "oh that? Yeah, i don't think anybody updated the functional design wiki since version 65, so that could just be 'missed functionality' when we handed over the development to the new team'.

          or

          'oh that? Yeah, the lead said he didn't use it, so it wasn't high priority to put that story into the upcoming sprint'

          or

          'Well, what do these people expect? It's free software'.

          Still, don't like it...

  20. fnusnu

    I'd forgive all the other issues

    if it had zoom and reflow...

  21. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "Rolling out an entirely new product to a large group of users is a complex process that can easily result in issues when executed too quickly."

    There's the problem. Users want to be able to decide whether they want an entirely new product. They don't want it foisted, let alone forced, on then as a routine upgrade.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      It's also a process that can easily result in issues when you don't support 99% of existing extensions, no matter how slowly you execute the process.

      This is like an OS changing its driver model and pushing out an auto-update when only a dozen or so common disks, rodents, keyboards and displays are supported. It beggars belief that anyone thought they would get away with this.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "They don't want it foisted, let alone forced, on then as a routine upgrade"

      To be fair, it's weird uncle Google doing the foisting here as the Play Store could let you choose to autoupdate security and performance fixes but delay and review major releases. Lumping them together means you have to choose between using potentially insecure software while the world tries to exploit you, or putting up with the daily Kafkaesque "who moved my icon" feature creep.

  22. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    I wonder if the removal of add-ons is related to this https://yoric.github.io/post/why-did-mozilla-remove-xul-addons/

    I find it an alarming account of Mozilla development. At one level is could be read as the consequence of abandoning the discipline of making architectural changes with major release numbers with minor numbers for more incremental changes. On another level it's maybe a description of the corner they'd painted themselves into which forced them to abandon that.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      There are three types of extensions on Firefox, XUL extensions (the first kind) never worked on Firefox Android.

      Only Webextensions work now, but with the latest version they only added enough support to the new UI just to get the most popular extensions working. I guess they are being agile.

  23. logicalextreme Silver badge

    If this is an overhaul and it isn't feature-complete, why didn't they release it separately? A notification of the new version in the original app would suffice to give users the choice to switch when they're ready.

    1. Brian Morrison

      Well there has been a preview for well over a year, but the last couple of steps have been a bit awkward where preview->nightly, beta was effectively preview, and then FF68 was the current version and then the changeover which needed a bit of care. I had been following this for over a year with the preview version, if you didn't it would be a bit of a surprise.

      1. Mage Silver badge
        Coffee/keyboard

        Re: a preview for well over a year

        Really?

        In a basement with a sign saying beware of the leopard!

  24. Marjolica

    Firefox did flash me a notification - in advance - yesterday (maybe because I have an account?) and I had already seen mention of this elsewhere so had disabled play store auto updates and I've removed my Master Password for now, just so my passwords don't get blitzed.

    I could probably live with the new version - I use uBlock Origin and Privacy Badger to block ads and trackers and they are available in the new version (though I'd be unsurprised if Badger needed to relearn all the trackers it blocks.

    However the lack of back/forward buttons (if true) would be a complete bummer - how else do you get back to the Register home page from here?.

    I also understand that they haven't enabled about:config which would mean I have no control over my DNS (amongst other things): I do use DoH (via Nebulo) but avoid Cloudflare (the company whose Chief Security Officer was previously sacked by Uber).

    On my PC's Firefox-esr (LTS) I have three months overlap of the old and the new version, so I don't get bumped into upgrading. On Android, not only do they stop supporting the old version for security immediately they hit you with an automatic upgrade.

    For now I'm sitting fast on the old version. Any suggestions for a good alternative mobile browser? Don't say Chrome.

    1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

      For now I'm sitting fast on the old version. Any suggestions for a good alternative mobile browser? Don't say Chrome.

      Well, you *did* say a GOOD alternative browser, so that automatically excluded GChrome (aka 'MSIE6-revisited') right away. So sorry to say there aren't any "good" browsers anymore.

    2. S4qFBxkFFg

      "I've removed my Master Password for now, just so my passwords don't get blitzed."

      You may or may not know, but the reason this change is being made, is to get rid of "problematic" English-language nomenclature - the same function will be enabled by something called the "Primary Password".

      (To be explicit, the undesirable connotation is with human slavery, where the word "master" would mean a master, sometimes owner, of slaves.)

      Now, if I may, I will digress into a rant...

      No-one can deny that racism exists, it can be casual, organised, deliberate, accidental, etc. I would hope everyone could agree that whatever adjectives are used, it's bad.

      If we consider the deliberate and organised kind of racism - imagine the kind of people who post seriously and enthusiastically on /pol/ (8 or 4) - if they are "out", they may march at protests wearing swastikas, but more likely keep their activities anonymous - expressed online, and in the ballot box. One of their goals (and in the context, it seems obvious and reasonable) is to discredit their opponents - these could include almost the entire political left and centre, as well as most of the right and unengaged.

      Now, the relevant part - one of their methods to achieve this goal (and this can be seen being openly discussed on some of their forums/boards) is driving a wedge between those who actively oppose them (a minority) and those who are uninterested, uninvolved, or even "normal".

      Even assuming actions like removing the word "master" in favour of "primary" are taken in good faith in pursuit of a better, more equal, society: This is not what the majority of people affected by such changes will think. They will experience inconvenience, and if they make the slightest enquiry as to why, they will associate it with "those BLM people". They will be that little bit less likely to accept genuine anti-racist positions, and perhaps even drift into active racist thoughts and actions.

      Don't assume I'm saying people will join the KKK over Firefox breaking their passwords - the point is that this is happening across society - both genuine and false-flag anti-racist positions and actions are being publicised (this could be as simple as some nobody sharing an absurd "loony left" story on facebook/twitter) with the intention of portraying good and necessary responses to racism in our society as extreme, and harmful to "normal decent folk". If this happens enough times, it will not be shrugged off as a one-off.

      In nearly all cases of such "wedging" there will be no convincing evidence unless someone is willing to spend their time digging around the extreme-right web.

      Please remember this if you are in any sort of position to influence any kind of change that affects others - by all means, take the actions considered necessary to improve society, but think hard on the effects, and how they could be presented - inconveniencing the uncommitted and denigrating the unengaged run the great risk of being nearly entirely counterproductive.

      (Rant now ends - I bashed this out in the last ten minutes based on some previously unaddressed thoughts that pulled together when prompted by this master/primary thing Firefox is doing - please let me know if I got anything obvious wrong.)

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Your rant aside, the primary password is a change of functionality too... it brings up Android's unlock screen so you can enter the PIN/password or scan your fingerprint or face or whatever. If you get past that you get to the new password manager.

        1. S4qFBxkFFg

          Fair enough - when I loaded the page that's eventually linked from Firefox's notification, it didn't go into that detail, but only mentions that the master password is to be no more, primary password replaces it, and has a brief paragraph about the fact that "master" is a now a bad word.

      2. Hollerithevo Silver badge

        The issue was never 'master'

        "Master" is a no-problem word when associated with 'master copy', master craftsman' etc.

        It is the word "slave".

        And when the first techs decided that one thing was primary and a second thing was dependent, and chose master/slave as the best descriptive fit, that's when we had a problem. Because if that's where your mind goes to, especially in the western world where legal slavery has not been a thing for quite a while, then it's definitely a problem. Can it be coincidence that the community who was comfy this master/slave was and is a community not comfy with BAME and white women?

        Changing the words is a minor thing and suggests that the first community that was naming things had a lot of problems. Changing the words doesn't eliminate the problems, but that community will never know how nice it will be that female techs don't have to face the male/female naming of fittings or that POC doesn't have to say master/slave. We will soon get used to it and a small but bad thing will have been eliminated. Not enough, but why not solve he small, since you can?

        1. Trilkhai

          Re: The issue was never 'master'

          If the first (and only) place a person's mind goes to when encountering the word "master" is to an institution that hasn't existed for well over a century, then the problem isn't with the term, it's with the person's inability to place terms into context and obsess over long-past events. It's like a woman finding the existence or mention of dresses or skirts traumatic because females as a whole used to be banned from wearing pants in Western society; there's a point where the emotional hypersensitivity and "trigger"-phobic behavior just becomes ridiculous.

      3. Marjolica
        Facepalm

        Primary is problematic too

        Yes, noticed that (it's in the FAQ).

        Completely ignores the problematic use of 'Primary' (and 'Secondary') amongst many younger polyamorous people.

        1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

          Re: Primary is problematic too

          Completely ignores the problematic use of 'Primary' (and 'Secondary') amongst many younger polyamorous people.

          I still think "seme" and "uke" would be fun replacement terms (even if yuri is more my style).

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        You have a point.

        Only yesterday the Daily Mail ranted that "Rule Britannia" won't be sung at the Proms, to appease those "black lives matter" people.

        https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8658599/Black-Lives-Matter-backing-conductor-Dalia-Stasevska-hoping-bring-change-Proms.html

        1. Trilkhai

          The BBC has stated that the change is just for this year, and is because of the concern that having a bunch of people singing together will spread COVID-19:

          https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-53902065

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Well, duh. That was the whole point of my post - people making bullshit arguments based on real issues, just to further their agenda

            Perhaps you didn't read the post I was replying to?

            I'm sorry that the language "those 'black lives matter' people" was too subtle for you, and the downvoters.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              The director general of the bbc was interviewed (saw it this a.m., on bbc news24) about whether the wording and sensitivities had been discussed and he completely avoided answering the question when put, and went straight on to having it back next year.

              So we know it was discussed and in those terms, but the fact that the songs will return mean that the weight of opinion was not on the side of some clever ploy to not have them sung again. But what we already knew is that it is discussed in those terms at every bloody yearly prom planning meeting because that's one of the reasons why they have those meetings, even if they don't like to admit it.

              Interviewers want controversial interviewees. publishers want clickbaity crap, especially if half their clicks come from people who are only there to be outraged at the outrage.

              Sorry, I just need to stand on the cliff shouting into the wind for a moment.

        2. Dan 55 Silver badge

          You do know that's Cummings' latest dead cat thrown onto the table in his ongoing culture war, right? Johnson could hardly contain his enjoyment when asked to comment on it yesterday.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Yes. That was the whole point of my post. The "fake outrage" used as an excuse for their agenda.

      5. AK565

        The problem with this way of thinking is that changing the label doesn't change the thing. Calling the master password 'primary'doesn't do anything. One could easily make an argument that 'primary'is just as '-ist' as the word 'Master' is.

        'Whore' used to be the PC word for 'lady of the evening' Languahes change.

        1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    3. Eric.R.

      DoH is malicious imo, there may not be any truly private providers (as you mentioned nebulo). The default ones or ones at the top of most recommendations are all 'a bit off'.

      Seems like another monetization scheme, mozilla even made a deal with usa isp comcast.

      Interesting reddit thread relating to it:

      https://old.reddit.com/r/pihole/comments/ig47hz/multiple_apps_including_tiktok_use_dnsoverhttps/

  25. poohbear
    FAIL

    "That’s why we decided to roll the new Firefox for Android out gradually in order to provide users with a positive transition experience."

    -->

  26. David Nash

    Genuine question

    This does sound like a disaster, and I agree with the sentiment that they shouldn't just foist an upgrade on people under the disguise of a regular update.

    However, don't people just use the Android built-in back button, which seems to serve as a Browser "back" in my experience?

    I am more likely to use the browser's "forward" button for times when I accidentally pressed back, than the browser's "back".

    1. Marjolica

      Re: Genuine question

      One difference is that if you' press-and-hold' the browser back button you get to choose from the entire in-browser back history, so from 'here' (Comments) back-and-hold you can go direct to the Register front page. Also it won't close your browser if there's no more history to go back to,

      I agree 'forward' is also useful and not duplicated in the Android 'thee buttons'.

    2. IGotOut Silver badge

      Re: Genuine question

      That's the back button tou can barely see in light mode?

  27. tiggity Silver badge

    mobile following the desktop version

    They kept messing with UI (for the worse), removing functionality & generally breaking stuff in desktop version so lots of users were driven away

    Looks like they are following same model for android now

  28. Brian Morrison

    I've been using the beta for some considerable time, alongside the 68.x version. It has been pretty reasonable, gradually improving in capability and features.

    The update a couple of weeks ago meant that I had to do some housekeeping where the preview version became the beta version and I also ended up with the nightly version as well. So I got rid of the nightlies, no sense in having 3 versions.

    Changeover from beta to release 79 was fairly painless, just a few things to poke at (previous experience helped a lot) and a few add-ons to sort out. The only real problem was losing the collections of bookmarks but it didn't take long to sort that out using the beta and logging in to my Firefox shared account.

    Yes, perhaps they could have handled this better for those not expecting such a big change, but as a user of the preview for well over a year I wasn't affected very much.

    1. Paul 87

      Spot the Mozilla paid shill! :)

  29. MJI Silver badge

    Not usable now

    My start screen was of course bookmarks, a sensible choice for people with a small number of sites they use frequently.

    Now I can't get it to do it.

    And the bookmark screen is missing the menus.

    had it working right two weeks (replacement phone)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not usable now

      Introducing favourites and Collections, a new way for your browsing habbits to be monetized.

  30. Novex

    Rollback via apkmirror

    Rolled back to 68 via apkmirror, all back to normal

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Rollback via apkmirror

      Doesn't rolling back mean your profile is wiped?

  31. Mage Silver badge
    Devil

    Morons

    See title

    Completely gone Google/Microsoft.

    I've been using Waterfox for ages on the desktop because Mozilla lost the plot ages ago. So not surprised.

    What do I install instead of this abomination so as to have the equivalent of Umatrix, no accidental installing of stupid apps from sites and know that 3rd party cookies are blocked?

    It's opaque as to what it blocks. Changes to GUI are poor too. Tablet got this stupidity last night.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Morons

      So true on the MS point, theyve even gone all in on the "but whats wrong with telemetry uwu".

      It certainly says something when a browser aquired by an ad company is more private than mozillas own. What a horrible stupid mess mozilla, you had one job, dont be google... youre worse! The betrayal is just... wow.

  32. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
    Devil

    Giving it a whirl

    At first, I read the article and comments and thought, "Uh oh, I should be careful." Then I remembered I was in Luddite-land where people still rail against decades-old changes to technology, so how bad can this one be?

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Giving it a whirl

      It's very bad.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Giving it a whirl

      Disable auto update for Firefox then install the beta which won't overwrite it so you can compare.

      1. Trilkhai

        Re: Giving it a whirl

        I just installed the Beta (which is at v.80) yesterday out of curiosity, and it's quite a bit more functional than 79 sounds like it is, so installing Beta won't give users an accurate idea of what they'll encounter if they let 68 be updated.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Giving it a whirl

          First thing I noticed is they put the back option back in on the menu and added the history list when you press and hold the Android back button.

          I'm sure they could have waited a month or three more to get it right instead of releasing it in this state and annoying people so they go and use another browser.

  33. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Firefox is dead

    I tried the Android Firefox beta for a while to see if it fixed cache deadlocks and stale data bugs that have plagued all forms of Firefox for years. The cache worked better but the app UX intolerable. After a month of trying to use it, I found that it was actually more of a hassle to use than the older broken browser.

    1. my cats breath smells like cat food

      Re: Firefox is dead

      I've been using beta for a few months and can't say that it's impacted my use of browser on mobile that much. I'm glad it has support for addons. Loss of navigation button (it was only ever back, as I recall) did kind of annoy me at first but using either history in the menu or my phone's ᐊ back button solved that pretty quickly.

      Recently I was automatically switched to the nightly beta version which was a little worrying but I suppose I can switch to the mainline version if that becomes problematic (it hasn't).

      One thing I've learned is that people whinge when they are confronted with something new in an already familiar product. Gnome shell 3 and Firefox quantum spring to mind, but both of those are now my favourite desktop and browser platforms.

      Sometimes less is more.

      1. ThatOne Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Firefox is dead

        > people whinge when they are confronted with something new in an already familiar product

        Great, my car got changed during the night into a park bench. All right, I can't use it to drive to work anymore, but as you say, less is more. I now have a park bench on the sidewalk. Bliss.

        My point, in case you're sarcasm-intolerant, is that people indeed don't like things they rely upon to be switched overnight with things which are clearly not fit for the task. Remember Win 8? I'm sure it was great to have on a tablet, but (for instance) on a graphic designer's computer with two huge (non-touch) screens it must have been indescribably stupid and cumbersome.

        If they had released the new Firefox as a new separate program ("Firefox NT") and gracefully end-of-lifed the old version, over a period, people wouldn't had minded. They would had time to see it coming, time to adapt, and the new version would had the time to evolve beyond the stunted WIP it is now.

        As I said further up, a program is a tool, not a fashion statement. I'd rather drive a slow, rusty jalopy than a slick fast car which can only turn left.

  34. Paul 87

    Had the "pleasure" of this update this morning about an hour before the El Reg article went up that'd have warned me not to update Firefox

    Dear god it is absolutely dire, you can't even get into the basic "about:config" page to customise any of the out of the box settings that are on by default that you don't want.

    However, their FAQ page is lying through it's teeth, you can totally roll back to a previous version if you're prepared to lose your settings / bookmarks and are willing to take a risk on a non-Google play source. Willing to bet we'll see a tonne of virus filled APK's on the internet within the next few days unless Mozilla relent or fix their "open Beta" version.....

  35. Sok Puppette

    I think it's time to give up on Mozilla and get support behind a new foundation with a better sense of priorities.

    They started out as the browser that cared about you as a user and had your back. They've devolved into a browser that's more concerned with making pointless confusing UX changes to bring the program into line with some internal designer's personal taste (and these changes are NOTHING but matters of personal taste). They've bitten the bullet and made necessary internal architecture and engineering changes, but every time they've rolled out a major change they've concentrated on pointless fluff instead of making sure that imporant functionality kept working on the new base (looking at you, WebExtensions...).

    The user's control over the browser has been nerfed a little more at every desktop release. Mobile never even caught up with desktop, and now it's taken a giant step backward.

    Of course, it doesn't help that Google (their main funding source) is out there sabotaging anything actually user focused and pressuring Mozilla to help evolve the "Web platform" into something that Google (and other large companies) can better use to monetize your eyeballs. But Mozilla has not done a good job of resisting, often doesn't even seem to have figured out it's being manipulated, and has been outmaneuvered at every turn. Mozilla slurps up every stupid, layering-violating, misarchitected, unsecurable misfeature that Google (or even Apple) throws in the trough, and then suggests some more.

  36. airbrush

    It's ok

    My first experience of it is that it's quicker than the previous version, the bar at the bottom makes more sense. Every time familiar stuff changes people moan, personally I find it quite refreshing to see. Chrome is more bloated, like every redesign there's good, bad and stuff you'll get used to.

  37. MorpheusUK

    Could be worse but missing vital extensions

    Whilst my primary browser on Windows, Firefox was always a secondary browser on Android. However whilst my first impression of the new version is it's faster. I'm not really bothered about the address bar position it doesn't make much difference either way to me however no back button (less chance of accidental closure and option to select from history), refresh hidden in the overflow menu are stupid decisions. Finally in general it seems to need more taps to reach things than the previous version.

    Finally the extensions that I use that aren't currently catered for cookie autodelete, user agent switcher and manager and bypassbpaywalls. Are used extensively on the occasions that I use FF on Android. At least uBlock Origin, Privacy Badger and NoScript are supported.

    I backed up the 68 APK before upgrading so I guess it comes down to whether Mozilla sort out extensions before another browser such as Bromide or Brave decide to implement Kiwi Browsers extension support note that the code has been open sourced.

    I definitely haven't seen enough for it to take the spot of primary browser on my phone or tablet yet.

  38. Bump in the night
    FAIL

    Couldn't be worst update ever

    Although they have covered up some of the embarrassment, I'm sure Opera has them beat. Among the other crippleware, search results for "help" yielded "Nothing found".

    1. EricPodeOfCroydon

      Re: Couldn't be worst update ever

      My needs might be really simple, but I've used Opera exclusively on Android for several years now without any issues (apart from its habit of dumping an unwanted icon or two on the homepage after an update, but they're easy enough to delete). I'm sure there must be a downside (I'm sure someone will tell me!), but for me it just works and I love being ad-free!

  39. Randall Shimizu

    I spoke this person from the Mozilla foundation about 2 years ago. He told me that Mozilla only has 2 developers that work on the mobile version. Personally I use Dolphin browser. Dolphin has been acting up recently so I may switch to another browser.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yep its really not safe to use. You go asking for help on slowness, crashes or memory leaks (so many potential 0days) and youre told to install beta and upload reports... so much for private and secure. Look at the marketing they do in r/android "private by design", i mean the app has 4 trackers compiled in wtf! how do they get away with lying like this?

  40. b_armitage

    Four taps to open a new tab until I learn new muscle memory

    (and one tap is down the bottom of the screen whereas it was all up top before)

  41. 759b954e-617b-408b-a2b1-f5a42c3688d4
    Thumb Down

    I tried the Fox again recently, on desktop and mobile, after using Vivaldi then Brave for a while, but too many sites that I need seem to only work properly on the chromium engine.

    So now it's Iron + uBlockOrigin on desktop and back to Brave on mobile.

  42. Christian Berger

    There are 2 main underlying problems here:

    1. Mozilla doesn't care about its users. They fail to understand what they exist for and instead work against the user.

    2. Web standards are so utterly complex, that it's impossible to write a truly free browser. The code of browsers is to complex for a single person or small group to make meaningful changes. The code is, in a way, unfree, but not because of license, but because of complexity.

    1. Wayland Bronze badge

      Re: There are 2 main underlying problems here:

      Company mottoes used to be "The customer is always right" . Obviously if you're a company who wants to innovate then you have to lead and not simply follow the customer. What seems to be happening now is the user is no longer the customer. The user is the product and what was the product is now a tool to deliver the user/product to the customer in the form they (in this case Google) wants.

      The customer is still "always right" but it's Google not us users.

  43. Confuciousmobil

    Simple solution.

    Ditch Android and go Apple.

    Problem solved.

  44. YetAnotherJoeBlow

    I learned a lesson a few years ago...

    When an app becomes important to me, at the very least I resign it. No matter what happens, that app can never update. Sometimes I clone apps for the same effect. I mean after all, it is my device.

  45. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Seems as if 2020 is not done yet.

    First it was the 'rona.

    Then mass layoffs, and still more 'rona.

    And mass lootings and burnings in Kenosha, and other diverse places, and yet more 'rona.

    Now it's cruddy software, and still more 'rona.

    Coronachan must love us.

    Time to break out the time displacement device and travel back to 1960 when the world was a better place, and make The Silent Age* happen.

    Point-and-click adventure game. Most Excellent.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Better for some ......... !!!???

      Anonymous South African Coward,

      "Time to break out the time displacement device and travel back to 1960 when the world was a better place ..."

      Only for people who were not *white* ....

      To quote (https://www.history.com/topics/1960s):

      The 1960s were one of the most tumultuous and divisive decades in world history, marked by the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War and antiwar protests, political assassinations and the emerging "generation gap."

      In a nutshell, not as good as we think, although once again it depends on your 'skin colour'.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not safe, try alternatives.

    Takes 2 minutes to search and try another browser.

    Fennec, mature open source firefox on fdroid and has addons.

    Bromite, really fast! and guess what no sketchy connections or tracking, AT ALL.

    If Bromite and others can do it without spying and be so fast, what are the developers at firefox actually doing with all that google money? seems sketchy, cant ignore whats right infront of my face any longer.

  47. -martin-

    Why can't they (all tech companies) just stop messing with things that work perfectly well. Why do they feel the need to change it all, not making anything better in the process, and more often, breaking the things that do work. They're just changing things for the sake of it. For something to do... Well this should've been a new thing, it's not an upgrade... If anything it's a downgrade. I'm close to giving up on all this crap and going back to a simple phone and a laptop (with Linux on it, because Microsoft are no better at this).

  48. John Savard Silver badge

    Astonished

    I expect this kind of arrogant behavior by companies like Microsoft and Apple that can get away, at least for a while, with thinking that they have their customers over a barrel. Firefox is in no position to engage in such nonsense, and, as a result, is likely to be consigned to irrelevance on mobile phones.

  49. MJI Silver badge

    Sideloaded still downdated

    Uninstalled got a boy to sideload 68, fine for 2 days, then.

    It effing downdated again.

    Uninstalled again.

    Returned to boy to fix.

    How do I stop Android FF downdating?

  50. Richard Hewitt

    Just wished I'd read this article BEFORE updating.... Argh!

    Mozilla are really trying my patience. I gave up on desktop Firefox after the Australis fiasco. I use Waterfox now, not an option for mobile, or tablet...

    Things I like in a browser:

    Customisability

    Customisability

    Customisability

    Prefix of address appearing. eg: https://

    Back button

    Forward button

    Home button.

    Tabs

    Non hiding awesome bar.

    All gone with this clusterfck update. Too busy trying and failing to ape Google Chrome...

  51. Michael Tripper

    Delete Updated App then Install APK from previous version

    I deleted it and uploaded an apk. Just do not Update All by mistake in Play Store.

    I think Mozilla did this to please big tech censorship - no ad blocker, video downloader, etc among many other User controlled things. This is about Authoritarianism, Corporate Control of all aspects of life. It is evil. Mozilla is no longer the company it claimed to be in the past. No longer Open, but Closed, closed garden model just like Apple.

    1. Sleep deprived

      Re: Delete Updated App then Install APK from previous version

      Can Android auto-updates be blocked only for a specific (Firefox) app?

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