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Firefox’s Android app is getting proper support for extensions once again

Firefox’s Android app is getting proper support for extensions once again

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The mobile browser currently supports a limited number of add-ons, but Mozilla hopes to launch an open ecosystem before the end of the year.

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The Firefox logo on a black background
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Firefox’s Android app will soon support an “open ecosystem of extensions,” developer Mozilla has announced, allowing users to customize the browser with a wide range of third-party addons. An exact release date for the feature is yet to be announced, but in a blog post Mozilla’s Scott DeVaney said it should come before the end of the year. More details will be announced next month.

With the release, Firefox claims it will be the “only major Android browser to support an open extension ecosystem.” Extensions are currently not supported on Chrome for Android, the OS’s default browser, though Android Authority reports that it’s possible to get them working on smaller browsers like Yandex and Kiwi Browser. Over on iOS, Apple recently added support for extensions to its Safari browser.

The “only major Android browser to support an open extension ecosystem”

Extension support on Firefox for Android technically goes back years, but compatibility was massively reduced when the app was rebuilt in 2020. Since then it’s only officially supported a limited number of less than two dozen extensions, Android Police recently reported. While it’s still technically possible to run any desktop Firefox extension with the Android app, you need to enable a debug menu to do so, and Mozilla warns that this option is designed for “developers and advanced users” and may “lead to unexpected outcomes.”

“There is so much creative potential to unlock within the mobile browser space,” Firefox’s director of engineering Giorgio Natili said in a statement. “Mozilla wants to provide developers with the best support we can so they’re equipped and empowered to build modern mobile WebExtensions.” The company’s blog post includes a list of instructions for developers to ensure their extensions work as expected on Android, without falling prey to the operating system’s tendency to shut down resource-intensive processes.

Although Mozilla characterizes Firefox as a major Android browser, its market share pales in comparison to market leader Chrome, which Statcounter reports commanded nearly 65 percent of all mobile browsing (including iOS) as of July 2023. Firefox’s market share, meanwhile, sat at just half a percent.