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You are here: Home / Mobile Tech / Mozilla Begins Testing Firefox for iOS
Mozilla Testing Firefox for iOS, But Not Where You'd Think
Mozilla Testing Firefox for iOS, But Not Where You'd Think
By Shirley Siluk / CRM Daily Like this on Facebook Tweet this Link thison Linkedin Link this on Google Plus
As more and more people use mobile devices to access the Internet, Mozilla is releasing a version of its Firefox Web browser for iPhone and iPad users. It started Thursday with a public preview only for users in New Zealand.

Mozilla, which uses its Gecko rendering engine for Firefox, has long resisted developing an Apple version of its browser in part because iOS is built on a different layout engine, WebKit. However, Mozilla began reconsidering its stance after last year's release of iOS 8, in which Apple loosened previous restrictions on its Nitro JavaScript engine. Before that time, Apple had restricted its improved Nitro JavaScript engine to its own app, leaving third-parties with a slower version.

Those improvements opened up an opportunity "to begin development of a Firefox experience for iOS," Mozilla noted in May. The company said it now expects to make an iOS version of its browser globally available later this year.

Seeking Feedback for Search, Other Features

"Our goal is to create a great browsing experience for iOS with Firefox," Mozilla said Thursday in a blog post. "With this first public preview we will be collecting feedback in one country, before we extend availability to get feedback in a few more countries prior to a full public launch."

Mozilla is looking for feedback on several features of the browser in particular. One of those is Intelligent Search, which not only offers suggested search results but gives users a choice of search providers.

Another feature, Firefox Accounts, will allow users to transfer their Firefox browsing histories, passwords and tabs from their PCs or laptops to their iOS devices. Mozilla will also be seeking feedback on Visual Tabs, which it says offers "an intuitive way to keep track of your open tabs."

1 Billion iOS Users

Although Android dominates the mobile operating system landscape, iOS holds sway with a loyal market of iPhone, iPad and iOS users. During the company's Q1 earnings call earlier this year, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that the company had sold 1 billion iOS devices as of November.

And it seems Mozilla is finding it hard to ignore that many users."We want to bring Firefox to every language, platform and device possible," the company said in a blog post in May. "Although we can’t bring the full Firefox experience and rendering engine to iOS due to the restrictions, we saw an opportunity with the latest improvements and tools in iOS 8 to begin development of a Firefox experience for iOS."

Following the release of iOS 8 last September, Mozilla's Firefox development team spent several months working on a new version of its browser. It then began sharing source code in the GitHub script repository "for the brave early testers."

Outside of New Zealand, iOS users will have to wait a bit longer. Mozilla is encouraging those users to sign up on its Web site to be notified when the global version of Firefox for iOS is released. The new browser will work on any device that can run iOS 8, including the iPhone 4S and later models, the iPad Air and iPad Air 2, the iPad 2 and later generations, iPad minis and the fifth-gen and sixth-gen iPod Touch.

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Posted: 2015-09-08 @ 6:30pm PT
One billion iOS devices sold is not equal to one billion users. Over time, devices become obsolete and the same user buys more devices to upgrade.

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