Last Updated on Monday, 02 July 2012 16:52 Published on Monday, 02 July 2012 16:52
Mozilla, the company behind the Firefox web browser, is planning a completely open mobile operating system, and today it revealed its official name: Firefox OS.
The first Firefox OS devices are expected in 2013, and Mozilla has already lined up some extensive support for the project. China’s ZTE and TCL, two large phone manufacturers, said they would build devices using Qualcomm Snapdragon processors, the same kind of chip in the Samsung Galaxy S III.
In addition, wireless carriers throughout the world have voiced support for Firefox OS, including Deutsche Telekom (the parent of T-Mobile), Etisalat (which operates in 18 countries throught the Middle East, Asia and Africa), Sprint in the U.S. and Spain’s Telefónica, which will release the first Firefox devices in Brazil.
Mozilla says Firefox OS will be a “fully open mobile ecosystem,” built entirely on open web standards, with apps developed as HTML5 applications. HTML5 is a standard for supporting advanced functionality in web pages — when an app launches in your smartphone’s browser instead of as a native app, chances are it was made with HTML5.
Firefox OS is a rechristening of Mozilla’s “Boot to Gecko” project, a plan to create a mobile OS around the company’s Gecko layout engine, used by many open-source software projects. By basing the entire OS on open web standards, HTML5 apps will be able to take advantage of aspects of the device that are often restricted to native apps on other platforms — things such as hardware acceleration.
The phone’s basic functions — calling, messaging, calendar, etc. — will all be based on HTML5, too, opening up even more possibilities for developers. For example, a developer could create an app that could view and analyze your text-messaging history, or even send texts automatically in certain situations.
While Android is often cited as an “open” platform as well, it’s not based on entirely open standards, as the recent Google-Oracle lawsuit has shined a light on. Also, the devices often have some restrictions imposed by either Google or the carriers. “Rooting” devices is possible to open up more functionality, but few consumers actually do so. [mashable]