After more than a decade of developing multiple builds of Firefox for Windows, Linux and even desktop Macs, Mozilla is finally making its Web browser available to users of Apple's mobile operating system, iOS. Firefox for iOS appeared yesterday on Apple's App Store.
Mozilla has long resisted developing an iOS version of its browser in part because Apple uses the WebKit rendering engine, as opposed to Firefox's Gecko. However, after Apple loosened previous restrictions on third-party developers with the release of iOS 8 last year, Mozilla decided to create a version of its browser that would work on iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch devices.
Firefox for iOS supports many of the most recent features that Mozilla has made available to users on other platforms. They include Private Browsing, which blocks content that could be used by third parties to record a user's online activity, and Visual Tabs for easier management of multiple browsing tabs opened on the same screen.
Appeal to Firefox Desktop Fans
Aodhan Cullen, CEO of the Web analytics firm StatCounter, told us that Mozilla's entree into the iOS world isn't likely to have a significant impact. However, it will likely appeal to iPhone and iPad users who are used to browsing with Firefox on desktops.
"Firefox has a very small footprint on the Android ecosystem," Cullen said, noting that his company's figures for October show Mozilla's browser has just a 0.1 percent share of the Android market. "If it sees similar usage on the iOS ecosystem it won't have much effect on the overall mobile browser market."
With nearly 17 percent of the desktop browser market, however, Firefox does have a significant number of loyal users who "will be happy to be able to seamlessly sync between their mobile and desktop browsing," he added.
'Expect Much More Soon'
More than 11 years after Mozilla released the first version of its browser, it still aims to bring Firefox to every device and every language in the world, said Firefox Vice President of Product Nick Nguyen in a blog post yesterday.
Nguyen said users can make Firefox easy to reach on their devices by adding it to the docks on the bottom of their home screens. He added that users with Apple devices can "expect to see much more from us soon as we are going full speed ahead on continuously delivering new features."