Several years ago, the Mozilla "Pilot Test" initiative prompted users to test mobile versions of the Firefox browser. Now, Mozilla is asking users to use its new reference browser to allow the addition of a new generation of Firefox to Android phones.
Firefox is one of the most popular browsers for Android. It is fast, can sync with the Firefox browser on your desktop, and better implements tab features than most mobile browsers. But the world of mobile phones is starting to change. By the end of the year we will see phones who use 5G, phones that fold open into tablets, and the phones that have 1 TB of internal storage. With all these upcoming changes, Mozilla must bring its mobile browser to a new level.
In a post in the Mozilla CommunityPaul Wright, a leading contributor to Firefox, announced that Mozilla was starting to build more powerful mobile applications. These applications will take advantage of Geckoview and Glean and will use more account integration. Presumably, the next big Firefox app for your Android phone will feel more like a proper browser and less like a phone browser.
In order to test all this new technology, Mozilla needs guinea pigs. That's why the company is launching the reference browser, a silent beta test project. users who signed up to use the reference browser will get a brief overview of Mozilla's new technology and help accelerate the company's development process by providing user data and feedback.
The reference browser is not a finished product and is not intended for any primary mobile browser. Paul Wright points out that the reference browser must be considered as a "technology preview" and that Mozilla only does so to accelerate the development of its future mobile browsers.
If you want to help Mozilla build your new browser technology, you'll need to sign up for Google Reference Browser Group. Just make sure you use the same Google Account that you use to download apps from the Google Play Store. Once you are registered, you can download the referral browser from Google Play. And that's all there is to it. You are a test pilot now.
Mozilla asks users to report bugs and issues to a Github Group, but the company will benefit from using your reference browser, whether you report problems or not. As you can imagine, Mozilla collects a lot of data from the reference browser. The company talked about how collecting data from beta programs This is a necessary evil, and trial pilots should be aware that they do not have as much privacy in beta programs as in full versions of the Firefox browser.
Be warned of the test drivers, beta browsers are not as safe as fully developed browsers. Paul goes on to assert that Mozilla is "reasonably certain that your personal data is safe" when using the referral browser. It's … reassuring, but vague. He recommends users do not rely too much on the reference browser and save a "copy of bookmarks and passwords in another copy of Firefox", in case something goes wrong.