Locked out of developing for a mobile device? Your app isn't available on iOS/Android or another OS? Mozilla (news, site) could have the answer with an all-browser operating system that will run on anything.

The Other Path

Recently it has become apparent that HTML 5-powered web apps are just as capable as some device-specific mobile applications. Twitter on the mobile web is fast catching up with the dedicated app, and some developers are looking to HTML 5 as a viable application path, but that just isn't enough for some people.

Mozilla is looking at taking this one stage further with a cheeky project, currently known as Boot-to-Gecko. Tucked away on the MozillaWiki is a blog page highlighting the platform's ambition, which is to displace proprietary vendor stacks and to make a better environment -- filling in the gaps, as they put it -- so developers can create web apps the equal of a native equivalent.

Under the Hood

To fill in those gaps, the team is developing new web APIs to expose device hardware and OS capabilities to be used to gather data or communicate using a web app. So, a potential web app could make use of an iPhone's camera (for in-browser video chat, perhaps), an Android's microphone could record messages, while Bluetooth connectivity, location sensing or another hardware feature could also be employed in novel browser-based ways.

Learning Opportunities

Using a privilege-based model to ensure safety and security when playing with the phone's hardware, there are additional features to ensure that any app will boot and play on any device. The small development team say they will make use of some Android code on that platform for ease of access, but the aim is to be as agnostic as possible.

All of this is in the early stages of development. Interested coders can take a look at the developer thread on Mozilla for further information. Given the more open playing field in the mobile browser world, Firefox could definitely do with a unique feature to give it an edge, and this could be of great interest to pure web developers. 

But you do have to wonder if the closed stores of Apple and others would allow the final app in the first place, because it could, hypothetically, interfere with the hardware in ways the makers don't like or intend.