With Android extensions, Firefox now offers ad-free browsing experience

Mozilla has launched hundreds of extensions for Firefox on Android, a web browser with more than 100 million downloads on the Play Store. It’s a move in the opposite direction from Google’s plan to weaken extensions on Chrome.

Last week, Mozilla announced that more than 450 new extensions are now available on the Firefox browser on Android.

Among the recommended ones, the ad blocker uBlock Origin seems to be one of the more popular, with a 5-star rating on almost 17K reviews. Other recommended choices include password manager Bitwarden, dark mode option Dark Reader, user script manager Tampermonkey, text-to-speech reader Read Aloud, and other privacy, personalization, and productivity tools.

A browser add-on is software that the user chooses to add new features or functionality to the browser.

Mozilla hopes that a new mobile extension ecosystem will allow developers to freely create and publish extensions for users to choose from.

“Extensions were first created as a way for people to customize their own internet experience, from artists designing themes to developers who wanted to make extensions to improve people’s web experience,” said Vicky Chin, Vice President of Engineering at Firefox.

Mozilla is working to enable even more extensions in the coming months.

Nearly half of Firefox desktop users have installed at least one extension to customize their online experience. There are thousands of extensions to choose from. Many use adblockers to limit tracking and profiling online and free up device resources, some adblockers even allow the bypassing of anti-adblock features on YouTube.

Blocking ads is part of good cybersecurity hygiene and is recommended by authorities such as the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

“Adblocking software prevents different types of ads from displaying or removes them altogether, reducing the risk of receiving malicious advertisements or being redirected to malicious websites. A common adblocking technique uses web browser extensions that allow organizations to customize and control how online advertisements appear. CISA encourages organizations to evaluate solutions that would allow the ability to block a malicious advertisement,” the organization writes in its recommendations.

Meanwhile, Google is going the opposite way, with plans to weaken many extensions in its Chrome browser on desktops. Starting June 2024, adblockers such as uBlock Origin and many other extensions on Chrome will no longer work as intended. Chrome is transitioning its extensions Manifest to version 3, limiting functionality for added security benefits.

Add-ons for the desktop and Android versions of Firefox are unavailable for Firefox for iOS.

“Apple has created a proprietary iOS extension system which is incompatible with Firefox add-ons and extensions for Android, Mac, Windows and Linux. Also, iOS extensions written for other iOS apps won't work on Firefox for iOS (for example extensions written for Safari won't automatically work on Firefox for iOS),” the support page reads.

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