Mozilla Is Giving Up on Its OS for Smartphones

9 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Mozilla Firefox OS is not dead.

The app goes beyond simply blocking ads, a feature first permitted in iOS 9, to give granular control over trackers used in ads, analytics and social media, based on Disconnect’s open source blacklist of tracking sources. Mozilla Corp.’s brief attempt at making a smartphone operating system, and eventually competing with the likes of Google’s Android, Microsoft’s Windows and Samsung’s Tizen platforms, has finally come to an end. The company claims in its blog that it “may also increase performance and reduce mobile data usage” by blocking web fonts, though this might make your pages look a bit weird. Ari Jaaksi, senior vice-president, Connected Devices, Mozilla, confirmed this in a series of tweets from the Mozlando 2015 event in Orlando, Florida, earlier on Wednesday. Focus is at a relatively early stage, but its general availability brings the iOS version of Firefox up to the same level of privacy as the Private Browsing with Tracking Protection that is standard in Windows, Mac, Linux and Android.

While Apple has become a lot more open to the idea of letting users decide whether to block content, the fact that third-party browsers have to go through Apple’s WebKit has meant that content blocking is, itself, blocked. Focus only works on Safari and not Firefox, Mozilla’s own browser, on iOS, but the company says that it couldn’t help it — Apple doesn’t make content blocking available to third-party browsers on iOS.

Firefox took a long time to get a decent foothold in the iOS landscape because of all these restrictions, but as in cases such as its climbdown over DRM, it has had to make compromises along the way. This one is, by all accounts, a fairly minor one but nevertheless, Mozilla has remained committed to bringing parity across platforms and in this case, an external app is the temporary workaround.

Among the reasons that he cited for taking down the app, Arment said that it “harmed the online ecosystem.” According to a Washington Post report , the debate over ad-blocking has spiraled into a much larger conversation about the future of blogs, newspapers and other online media. The HTML5 approach to app development seriously restricted the number of third party apps, which meant we really didn’t have much else to play around with apart from the default apps preloaded on the phone. Ad blockers give users more control over their internet experience, but at the risk of undermining the very sites they depend on for information and entertainment. “We believe content blockers need to be transparent with publishers and other content providers,” Denelle Dixon-Thayer, a Mozilla executive, was quoted as saying to The Post “rather than placing certain content in a permanent penalty box.” Mozilla also canned its smartphone experiment by discontinuing Firefox OS, although the company will still continue to experiment on how it might work on other connected devices and Internet of Things networks. “We are proud of the benefits Firefox OS added to the Web platform and will continue to experiment with the user experience across connected devices. Before the arrival of Firefox for iOS, there was Firefox Home, a cut-down overlay for the native Safari browser offering access to browsing history and other Firefox Sync functionality. µ It was more of a web-centric phone that came much before its time, and the approach itself was far too different from what people had experienced with Android and Windows phones.

We will build everything we do as a genuine open source project, focused on user experience first and build tools to enable the ecosystem to grow,” TechCrunch quoted Ari Jaaksi, Mozilla’s SVP of Connected Devices, as saying. However, Mozilla has gone on to reassure the developer community that it is actually not killing the Firefox OS, and instead, this is just a realignment of the focus. “We will enter IoT by using technology from #firefoxos. And rather than develop a new platform for those devices, it makes perfect sense to use an existing product that has been grossly underutilized all this while.

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