At the recently concluded Mobile World Conference, Mozilla gave the audience a peek into their long awaited Mobile Firefox OS. Firefox OS promises to be as open as the Firefox Browser and will run apps on the language of the web: HTML5. What’s the big deal about Firefox OS? How is it different from or better than Android, iOS, Windows Phone and the rest?
The Firefox Mobile OS
The OS is also purely Open Source which means that those developers with the inclination to do so, can help by contributing code to make it better or write amazing apps for it easily. And most of the code being in web languages, it is easier for developers to create applications for it. This will, theoretically at least, allow Mozilla to have a thriving app market which has been proven to be the most important factor for a mobile platform to succeed.
In addition to the standard apps that we have all come to expect from mobile platforms such as dialers, browsers, maps, email, etc. , Firefox OS have also tied up with big names in the industry such as Twitter, Facebook, MTV and EA.
Mozilla will launch a Firefox app marketplace to aid discovery but this will not be the only place where people can find, download, and easily install apps. If developers want to offer apps from their own websites, they can. Mozilla also has no problem with other groups setting up alternate app stores.
One advantage of the Web app approach is that it’s possible to use a Firefox OS app without necessarily saving it to your device. It will work just the same, but won’t live in your app drawer forever if you only needed it once.
HTML5 code allows a Web app to store itself and the data it needs on the device locally. If an app doesn’t require a connection to work (such as streaming music or a search engine), it will work offline just as well as it does online as long as it’s coded to do that. Developers will have to ensure that information users expect to be able to access online is available, but that’s true for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone, too.
Firefox OS handsets will probably target the low to mid-end markets. Below are the handsets that we currently know about that are going to run the Firefox OS by default:
ZTE Open: This phone’s 3.5-inch, 480 x 320 display is modest, as are the internal specs. The Cortex-A5-based Qualcomm processor is clocked at or under 1GHz and backed by just 256MB RAM. There’s only 512MB of internal storage and a 2GB microSD card to bolster it. Connectivity includes 3G, wi-fi, Bluetooth, GPSm and FM radio. Looks like there’s only one camera, a 3.2 megapixel shooter on the back.
Alcatel One Touch Fire: The base specs here are about the same. You get a 3.5-inch display, 1GHz Qualcomm CPU, 256MB of RAM, 512MB of storage, and a microSD card slot pre-filled with a 2GB card (it can take cards up to 32GB). Same wireless radios: 3G, wi-fi, Bluetooth, GPS, FM radio. A 3.2 megapixel camera adorns the back. The 1400mAh battery should provide pretty long battery life for such a little thing. The back will come in a number of bold colors, included Firefox orange.
LG and Huawei are also expected to announce their handsets running Firefox OS soon.
Specific prices for the phones haven’t been announced yet. However, Mozilla’s CEO said that they would be just above feature phone costs and offered unlocked. An affordable phone not tied to one carrier is something to be excited about.
Let us know what you think about the spanking new Firefox OS.