Firefox opens up a new front in the smartphone war with its own OS that can help turn any website into an app, and bring greater interaction with the phone's hardware features to the fore.
A Little Bit of Hardware
Yes, smartphones are already full of apps and browsers to access websites, but Firefox OS will help turn your HTML5 website into an app that can interact with the camera, GPS and other features of your phone to bring greater interactivity. It will also keep alive the idea of a truly open ecosystem in this increasingly closed mobile OS world.
Previously under development as the Boot to Gecko program, the OS was unveiled late last year. Is this a new rival to Android and iOS, or just another side project? To prevent the latter, there's even a developer phone to encourage uptake. It packs a modest spec, but enough to get people interested in the ecosystem.
- CPU Qualcomm Snapdragon S1 1Ghz
- UMTS 2100/1900/900 (3G HSPA)
- GSM 850/900/1800/1900 (2G EDGE)
- Screen 3.5″ HVGA Multitouch
- 3 MP Camera
- 4GB ROM, 512 MB RAM
- MicroSD, Wifi N, Light and proxmity Sensor, G-Sensor, GPS, MicroUSB
- 1580 mAh battery
- Over the air updates
- Unlocked, add your own SIM card
There will be two models of phone, the Keon, described above, and a slightly larger Peak, with a bigger screen and a little more oomph in the specifications.
A Whole Lot of Apps
But the hardware is only there to tempt the developers, it will be the OS and the apps, which only take a little tweaking to convert from a website, that could make this the real deal. To get things rolling, Firefox is hosting a series of App Day hack events, rather like RIM has done for BB10) to get developers revved up.
Android users can get on board by trying the Firefox Marketplace app, which just leaves the whole is HTML5 all that great for mobile argument to be played out. We'll have a better idea in a few months when enough developers have had a go. Little chance of this winging its way to iOS, but as Apple starts to look a little jaded, perhaps now is the time for new pretenders to rise.
Will this lead to a full rush of Firefox phones to compete with Google, Apple, the resurgent Nokia and RIM? Or will Firefox sneak in around the sides, running as a super-app inside other environments? There's further info on acquiring one of the phones on the Firefox blog.