Firefox Mobile inches towards 1.0, sheds Flash support

It's been a long slog getting Firefox Mobile off the ground, but on Wednesday, Mozilla announced a third release candidate for its mobile browser. (Our First Look video gives an overview of RC2, the previous version.) Once code-named Fennec, Firefox 1.0 for Nokia's Maemo platform is achingly close.

Or is it? Firefox for Maemo 1.0 RC3 may signal that we're one step closer to getting a full-fledged Firefox browser on a mobile device, but the app has also taken a step back since RC2 emerged two weeks ago, shedding support for the Adobe Flash plug-in that Mozilla said in a blog post "degraded the performance of the browser to the point where it didn't meet our standards."

The plug-in is not the same as an extension or add-on, Mozilla stresses. Support for extensions like Weave remain intact in Firefox for Maemo 1.0 RC3. Mozilla does go on to point out that power testers can still manually turn on experimental plug-in support using about:config.

The third Firefox release candidate does fix some performance bugs and should reduce the amount of crashing that testers have noticed. You can download Firefox for Maemo RC3 for the Nokia N900 or N810 Internet tablet, though if RC2 is already installed, expect Mozilla's automatic update.

Mozilla hasn't told us when to expect the general Firefox release, but at this point we'd rather see a fourth release candidate--or a different solution to the feeble Flash problem (perhaps extensions, as Mozilla's Mobile director Stuart Parmenter mentioned--than see Mozilla rush to complete Firefox before it's truly ready for the public, and for its voracious consumption of Flash sites.

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