Firefox 4 Beta 2 Delayed for Testing

Firefox 4 Beta 2 has been delayed for a few more days as the candidate build undergoes quality assurance tests, according to a note on Mozilla's Website. Firefox 4's new features are designed to head off a challenge from Google Chrome and other browsers.

Firefox 4's latest beta will be delayed a week, according to Mozilla, as it undergoes more testing.

"Hi! We're glad you're interested in Firefox 4 Beta 2-it's not quite ready yet," read a posting on the Mozilla Wiki. "Our candidate builds (FTP links below) are still going through quality assurance tests." The release is now tentatively scheduled for July 29, a week later than the original estimate.

Firefox 4 Beta 3 is scheduled for release on Aug. 6.

Mozilla plans on rolling out additional versions of Firefox 4 every few weeks, as it seeks to refine the browser. The beta's new features offer a mix of aesthetic and performance improvements, including Stop and Reload icons merged into a single button, and a Smart Location Bar that allows users to search for-and switch to-any open tabs. In addition, the browser segregates browser plug-ins into separate processes, to better protect against certain types of crashes, and includes native support for HTML5.

"Your feedback is essential to help shape the product, which is why we're launching now to hear from you early in our development process," Mike Beltzner, director of Firefox development at Mozilla, posted July 6 on the Mozilla blog.

On the Web development side of the equation, Firefox 4 includes an "experimental Heads Up Display" analysis tool that offers developers a "peek into dynamic Websites," as well as an HTML5 parser and Jetpack SDK (software development kit).

While Firefox sits in a relatively comfortable position with regard to its competition-according to research company Net Applications, the browser holds 23.81 percent of the market, lagging behind Internet Explorer at 60.32 percent but well ahead of its single-digit rivals-it faces a growing threat from Google Chrome, which has been rapidly trending upward from 2.84 percent in August 2009 to its current 7.24 percent. Other browsers, notably Safari and Opera, are also gaining market share, albeit more slowly.

The other front in the browser wars is taking place in the mobile space. On July 17, Apple approved Mozilla's Firefox Home for the iPhone app, allowing users to sync their desktop's Firefox history, bookmarks and open tabs with their iPhone. Opera Mini is already available in Apple's App Store, introducing the possibility of other mobile browsers finding their way onto the iPhone in the near future. Mozilla, however, may not be among them.

"We do not have plans to ship the Firefox browser on the iPhone," reads a statement on Mozilla's Website. "Due to constraints with the OS environment and distribution, we cannot provide users Firefox for the iPhone."