Mozilla Submit Firefox Home to the Apple iPhone App Store

By Craig Buckler
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Following Opera’s iPhone launch success, it’s Mozilla’s turn to negotiate Apple’s complex acceptance authorization.

Apple dictate stringent application development rules for their hallowed devices. There are too many to list here but, in essence, you must use Apple’s tools, stick to published APIs, not override default applications, not provide language interpreters, not create software emulators and do what you’re told. You can’t create a competing browser but Opera were accepted because:

  1. they route traffic through proxy servers which return compressed page content to the device — there’s no local JavaScript engine
  2. although it’s faster, Opera is not as seamless and more limited than Safari
  3. Opera adhered to the rules and publicised their browser’s submission. Apple had no reasonable arguments for rejecting the browser and knew there would be uproar if they did.

Mozilla has taken a different angle. According to their FAQ:

We do not have plans to ship the Firefox browser for the iPhone. Due to constraints with the OS environment and distribution, we cannot provide users Firefox for the iPhone. Firefox is available for other mobile platforms like Maemo and Android.

Instead, the organization has created an app called Firefox Home which lets you access your desktop browser’s history, bookmarks and open tabs on your iPhone. Effectively, it’s a one-way version of Firefox Sync (previously known as Weave Sync) which is available as an add-on but will eventually be integrated into the browser.

The Firefox Home page viewer uses the native iPhone Safari browser. However, it also offers the “Awesome Bar” (I still hate that name!) so you can access frequently-used websites with a few keystrokes.

On the face of it, there’s no reason why Apple should reject Firefox Home. The app could persuade users to stick with Firefox rather than try Safari on their home PC, but I doubt that would concern Apple. That said, Apple have rejected apps for more arcane reasons.

For more information, visit Firefox Home and read the Mozilla blog post … but avoid their gut-retching cheesy video!

Will Firefox Home be accepted on the iPhone? Would you use it? Will Google and Microsoft be tempted to create similar iPhone apps? Please leave your comments below and cast your vote on the SitePoint home page.

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  • ahallicks

    I, personally, love the idea. I use Firefox most of the time, and having the ability to import bookmarks from there into other browsers is great, which is why I sometimes use other browsers. One click and all my bookmarks are there.

    The iPhone was lacking this feature and this is the biggest step to supporting that kind of functionality so I’m all for it. I don’t think the iPhone is lacking in not having Firefox because, as I say, Firefox (for me at least) is the development browser. I don’t do much development on the iPhone so I don’t need a browser that has those tools. But to have my bookmarks would be very nice indeed!

  • josh909

    I voted ‘no’. That said if I was still using Firefox my answer would be different however Chrome is my browser of choice these days.

  • Accessing bookmarks is great and hopefully this will be available for more platforms.

  • Kurtd

    They are shooting them selves in the foot with all these app restrictions. First adobe flash, now firefox, they are denying things that users want. iphone will equal icrap if this continues.