Firefox Focus is the mobile version of Firefox with a key focus on privacy. It aims to give users a distraction-free browsing experience by blocking disruptive ads and trackers. Created by Mozilla, the same organization behind Firefox, it adheres to the principle – “Your life is your business. Not ours.“
The official Firefox Focus GitHub page mentions, “The new Firefox Focus automatically blocks a plethora of online trackers from the moment you start it until you close it. Users can effortlessly delete their history, passwords, and cookies, ensuring they are not haunted by intrusive ads.” Intrigued about its privacy features? Read on to discover its remarkable capabilities.
How to Install Firefox Focus
If you wish to install Firefox Focus, start by opening your device’s app store. Next, search for “Firefox Focus” and proceed with its installation. For Android users, if the app is not listed in your store, navigate to “mozilla.org/firefox/mobile” on your browser. From there, select “Download the APK” associated with Firefox Focus and then install the APK file.
The first time I launched the app, its minimalistic design caught my attention. The primary screen, which displays merely a search bar, mirrors the uncluttered aesthetics of Mozilla Firefox. But that’s just the surface. Diving into its settings revealed a suite of robust privacy tools, which are detailed further below.
Key Features of Firefox Focus
Firefox Focus brings a fresh approach to web browsing, offering numerous advantages. But, like all things, it has its downsides. Let’s first delve into its remarkable features.
Enhanced Privacy by Default
With Firefox Focus, your privacy is a priority. Throughout your browsing session, it safeguards your online activities. And when you conclude your browsing, it erases your session, removing traces like cookies, local data, and storage.
Firefox Focus offers a streamlined settings menu, perhaps due to its design or its relatively new status in the browser market. Nevertheless, it provides essential privacy settings, augmented with advanced features such as stealth mode and fingerprint protection.
This browser natively blocks ads, eliminating the need for external add-ons or extensions like AdBlock Plus. As this feature is built-in, Firefox Focus delivers faster page loading. Moreover, the block lists are sourced from Disconnect, ensuring nearly all ads are blocked site-wide.
Comprehensive Tracking Shield
Firefox Focus goes beyond just blocking ads; it stops trackers by default. This includes trackers from advertising platforms such as Facebook Ads and data analytics tools like Google Analytics. This means your online behavior remains private, safe from prying eyes tracking your form entries and search queries.
Thanks to its ad-blocking and tracker-shielding features, Firefox Focus boosts your browsing speed. By filtering out many web page components, especially the more resource-intensive ones, the browser consumes less data and offers peak performance.
Limitations of Firefox Focus
Tab Management Constraints
Unlike many mainstream browsers, Firefox Focus does not natively support the opening of multiple tabs. That means you cannot initiate two tabs simply by inputting URLs in the address bar. However, there is some relief as links can be opened in new tabs. It might feel restrictive compared to Chrome or Firefox, but it’s a compromise for a privacy-centric browsing session.
Absence of Standard Features
While Firefox Focus is rich in privacy tools, it misses out on several standard features that users expect in contemporary browsers. The omissions include a lack of support for add-ons, bookmarks, and night mode. Additionally, the absence of back and tab switcher buttons, as well as caching for opened tabs, is felt.
Lack of Proxy Support
Despite its focus on privacy, Firefox Focus does not cater to proxy setups. This implies you won’t be able to mask your browsing activity and location via a proxy with this browser. However, there’s a silver lining: VPN use is permitted. This means you can employ VPN solutions tailored for Android or use Orbot (associated with Tor) in its VPN mode.
Read Also: 15 Best Free VPN Providers
Comparing Firefox Focus with Other Browsers
Having delved into the details of Firefox Focus, let’s juxtapose its offerings against other leading browsers. Not only will we contrast it with popular choices, but we’ll also examine how it stands against the highly secure Tor Browser and its functionalities.
Firefox Focus versus Chrome and Firefox
Both Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox command the browser market, boasting an expansive feature set and stellar performance. Comparing Firefox Focus with these giants can be challenging as it centers on private browsing. Given that Focus is relatively young (three years into its journey) and Chrome and Firefox have been around for over a decade, a direct comparison might seem unfair.
While Chrome and Firefox serve as our daily go-to browsers, brimming with features we’ve grown accustomed to, the absence of these in Firefox Focus can feel limiting. Notably, features like tabbed browsing and bookmarking are missed. Transitioning might be a tad uncomfortable initially, but the heightened privacy features of Focus make it a worthy trade-off.
Firefox Focus and Tor Browser
The Tor Browser stands as a beacon for privacy and security, finding favor among journalists and privacy advocates globally. Even though its mobile edition is in its nascent stage, it impresses with its robust privacy tools. Its array of features easily surpasses that of Firefox Focus, with notable mentions like anti-browser fingerprinting.
However, one edge Firefox Focus holds is its availability on both Android and iOS. In contrast, at the time of writing, Tor Browser is exclusive to Android. This distinction often makes iOS users lean more towards Firefox Focus compared to their Android counterparts.
What Are Users Saying?
Firefox Focus has garnered admiration from a vast user base, including myself. Glancing through its app store reviews, it’s evident that many users appreciate this compact browser. With impressive ratings of 4.8 on the App Store and 4.4 on the Play Store, the user testimonials often provide a deeper insight.
“I’m very happy with the app… Safari takes a long time to load certain pages… The phone would begin to overheat and the battery would drain… found Focus. The problem literally is solved… it is an excellent…“, said DNAisBuyingTime.
“This browser performs and delivers what it promises… you can delete all your history ,it blocks ads and google analytics,and it’s fast . There are some downsides such as you can only have one tab open at the time…“, said Alfred Tech.
“works well, good for private browsing. they should update it to allow opening new links in a different tab and also give the option of closing one or more tabs. it’s all or none right now“, wrote Saurabh Beedkar on the Google Play Store.
“I love this browser. Very stable and performance is great on mobile devices… you get built-in tracking protection.“, said Ketan Barve. Ashel Revy wrote “Excellent browser with privacy first approach. I set it up as default. Works really well & fast, but the feature set is very limited compared to the original Firefox.“
Considering a Switch to Firefox Focus?
If you’re pondering a switch to Firefox Focus, my advice would be to consider it as a secondary browser rather than a default one. The reason being its absence of conventional features, such as tabbed browsing and the ability to save bookmarks and passwords.
However, if you prioritize privacy and can forgo some of the everyday browser functionalities, it might just be the perfect choice for you.