Mozilla sidesteps iPhone ban on rival browsers

Slates June App Store submission for tool that syncs Firefox bookmarks, tabs to iPhone

Mozilla plans to submit an application to Apple's iPhone App Store next month, but it won't be a full-fledged Firefox browser, the company said Wednesday.

Instead, Mozilla will ask Apple to approve Firefox Home, a spinoff of the bookmark and tab synchronization technology it currently offers as an add-on to the Firefox desktop browser.

Mozilla will submit the free application to the App Store within the next three weeks. "However, we have no way of telling if or when it will be approved and available for download," said Ragavan Srinivasan, a product manager at Mozilla, in an entry on the company's blog .

Firefox Home will give users access to their browser bookmarks and history, as well as to the open tabs from the most recent Firefox session. The iPhone application will also include technology from Firefox's "Awesome Bar" -- the name Mozilla gave to the revamped address bar in Firefox 3.0 -- that lets users search for previously-visited pages using keywords or characters in either the URL or the page title.

Mozilla's application offers only one-way sync -- from Firefox on the desktop to the iPhone, but not the reverse.

Firefox Home is one way for Mozilla to dodge Apple's ban of rival browsers on its iPhone smartphone and iPad tablet.

"For devices or platforms where we're unable to provide the 'full' Firefox browser (either technically or due to policy), we aim to provide users with 'on the go' instant access to their personal Firefox history, bookmarks and open tabs on their iPhones, giving them another reason to keep loving Firefox on their desktops," said Srinivasan.

Mozilla has been a vocal critic of Apple's ban of rival browsers. Last year, the company backed a request by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) for an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) that would allow iPhone owners to "jailbreak" their phones without fear of copyright infringement penalties. At the same time, Mozilla's CEO said his company would not develop a version of Firefox for the iPhone.

Elsewhere on its site, Mozilla said it has no plans to create a Firefox Sync plug-in for Safari on the iPhone that would allow iPhone-to-Firefox synchronization, giving users round-trip sync.

Because Apple prohibits competing browsers on the iPhone, Firefox Home will be "read-only," and will rely on the smartphone's native Safari browser to actually render pages.

Norwegian browser maker Opera Software is the only major Safari rival to have built and submitted its software to the App Store. Apple approved Opera Mini in mid-April .

Like Firefox Home, Opera Mini sidestepped Apple's browser ban, but it did so in a different way. Rather than connect to Web sites directly, Opera Mini pulls compressed pages from Opera's own servers, a tactic that the company claims results in page download and rendering speeds six times that of the iPhone's Safari.

Firefox Home will work on the iPhone and iPod Touch, and on Apple's iPad media tablet in iPhone mode.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld . Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@ix.netcom.com .

Read more about app development in Computerworld's App Development Topic Center.

Tags iPhonemozilla firefoxiphone appsmozilla

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)

Comments

Comments are now closed.

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Shopping.com

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?