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Latest Firefox 4 Mobile Beta released

The Mozilla Foundation has released the latest beta of its Firefox 4 for Mobile browser, previously known as Fennec - and there are some major improvements to the free smartphone app.

Chief among these, for Android users at least, is a reduction in installed size from 43MB to 17MB - still, sadly, far to large for many to consider installing on the often cramped internal memory of your average Android device, but clearly a major step in the right direction.

The team warns that Android users looking to free up space will need to uninstall the old beta before installing the latest release, as, "due to some technical limitations on Android, upgrading won't remove some of the old files that are no longer needed."

There have been some major changes under the hood in this latest release, with many of the problems that were reported by testers being looked into and addressed - including vastly reduced memory usage, resulting in a far nippier browsing experience, and enhanced text rendering for a clearer display.

General performance has been given a tweak, too, with panning and zooming operations now considerably smoother and page-load times given a boost. Tests demonstrate a 25 speed improvement in the SunSpider Javascript benchmark suite compared to the stock Android 2.2 browser.

It's not just internal gubbins that have been spruced up with this release, either - the entire user interface has been re-jigged, giving the app a nattier appearance and the ability to undo the closing of a tab, a feature present in the desktop release of Firefox but until now missing from the beta.

Support for social networking functionality has been improved, with the ability to quickly share page links with your contacts directly from the Site Menu added to this release. A Feedback button has also been integrated into the build, allowing testers to quickly report issues to the development team.

The team has also detailed upcoming improvements for the next few releases, including hardware acceleration support to further improve scrolling and zooming performance and support for HTML5 video playback directly within the browser, although no time scales on either feature are yet available.

The latest beta is available now, as a free download for Android and Maemo devices, from the Firefox 4 Mobile Beta page.