Mozilla presents the first versions of Mobile Firefox

January 29, 2008 at 22:57 Leave a comment

Nokia 810

Back in October 2007, Mike Schroepfer from Mozilla has officially announced plans to port Firefox for mobile devices. No announcement has been made concerning what platform the software would be available for, but you have to believe that Windows Mobile will (also) be one of the targets.

Just after Christmas, Nokia released the N810, the first device to actually use a first version of Mozilla’s Mobile Firefox technology. Furthermore, this nice device also ships with th Flash 9 player ! More info at nokia.com.

Smart GUI Design

Firefox Mobile prototype UI

As part of it mobile strategy, Mozilla has unveiled the first designs of what may become in time, Mobile Firefox’s user interface. The design considers two scenarios: touch screen enabled devices like most PDAs and smart phones and those were screen navigation is performed with a keyboard or similar, like most cell phones.

Perhaps the most noticeable change in these first previews is the aim for look and feel and even functionality consistency with Firefox 3, a true challenge for an application constrained to cell phones and PDAs limited computing resources.

The main window looks very clean with a thin title bar, a main toolbar that can be hidden by tapping on the title bar and features a refresh/stop button, a location/search bar and Firefox 3-style star/bookmarks button.

Competition

When it reaches completion, Mobile Firefox will compete with other mobile browsers based on Apple’s open source WebKit engine, such as Pleyo’s Origyn Web Browser, as well as proprietary lightweight browsers from Opera, Access, and others. Traditionally, Firefox’s Gecko rendering engine has had a larger footprint than WebKit, but has been better supported by web developers due to Firefox’s popularity with Windows users. Firefox has more than 100 million users, Schroepfer claimed.

Schroepfer feels that much can be done to optimize Gecko 1.9 for low-resource mobile devices. He wrote:

“We are wrapping up work on Gecko 1.9 and there is room post 1.9 to make significant changes to the architecture for improved performance and memory use on devices. Things like reducing the use of XPCOM, unifying memory management under MMgc, and other improvements from Mozilla 2 will make Mozilla a great platform for all devices from mobile phones to your desktop. The use of a single source base gives us the leverage that makes OSS work so well.”

Schroepfer also feels that there is “plenty of room for innovation” in mobile devices. In particular, he suggested that Mobile Firefox could one day let users easily sync up their bookmarks and other user data using technology similar to that pioneered by the Joey project.

Schroepfer made it clear that Mobile Firefox will support ARM processors, likely in addition to Intel’s forthcoming line of mobile x86 chips. He enthused in particular about how Mobile Firefox could someday run on ARM Ltd’s just-announced multi-core capable Cortex-A9 SoCs (system-on-chip processors).

More details can be found in Schroepfer’s complete blog post.

 

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Entry filed under: Technology.

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