When Mozilla launched the redesigned Firefox mobile browser for Android, codename Fenix, in 2020, it knew that the new browser did not support all the features of the previous one. The organization hoped that users would see the benefits of the new Firefox browser for Android, that it offered better performance and web compatibility.
One of the main complaints was that the new Firefox lacked full support for extensions. It was not even clear from the get-go if the new browser would support extensions at all. Mozilla did make the decision to support them, and started to integrate support for WebExtensions into the browser.
Support for extensions was limited to a selection of add-ons, less than ten, on launch. Mozilla picked popular extensions like uBlock Origin, and users could install those directly from the browser. Support was extended several times by adding more recommended extensions. The total of supported extensions, as of January 2021, is still only 18.
Firefox Nightly for Android users can install other extensions by following a complicated process designed to make things as difficult as possible for the user. Not all extensions will work as APIs are still not implemented and some extensions may be designed for desktop use.
Mozilla announced on January 20, 2021 that it has completed the first Firefox for Android extensions development milestone. The last step was to introduce options on Mozilla’s main add-ons repository website to install extensions from it. Firefox for Android users are still limited to installing the 18 supported extensions, and it seems that these will be the only ones for the foreseeable future, as Mozilla’s Caitlin Neiman notes on the official company blog:
This wraps up our initial plans to enable extension support for Firefox for Android. In the upcoming months, we’ll continue to work on optimizing add-on performance on mobile.
Mozilla will focus on optimizing the performance of add-ons in the coming months. No information on future plans has been provided at the time of writing.
Our three reasons not to upgrade to the new Firefox for Android still hold. In mid-2020. we published three missing features that were keeping us from upgrading the browser. Besides missing better add-ons support, it was the lack of about:config access and the difficult process of adding new search engines, that kept us from using the browser.
Firefox users who don’t mind using development versions can use Firefox Nightly to get better add-ons support and access to about:config, but it is not designed for production environments.
Is there a chance to see full extension support in 2020 for Firefox Stable for Android. I think it is highly unlikely that support is coming this year. It seems more likely that select extensions will be enabled so that users can install those.
Now You: which extensions do you need that Firefox for Android does not support right now?