Mozilla Enters the iPad Browser Fray

Mozilla Enters the iPad Browser FrayKnown to have started the personal tablet revolution and accepted by many as the pivot on which netizens switched to mobile computing via tablets, the Apple iPad is the benchmark that many tablet manufacturers across the globe are trying to match. Besides all the obvious benefits of a sleek interface via the iOS, seamless touch screen usage, and many other interactive features, there is no denying that the iPad provides an enjoyable internet browsing experience. Here we ask a question: what makes internet browsing special…is it the speed or the connectivity experience? Both, yes, but another important and seldom overlooked factor is the internet browser. Many an iPad app development company has now started striving to enrich the internet experience for users by developing browser apps. What proves to be a challenge for iPad application developers is to match the quality standards set by the key players like Google, Safari and Opera.

This task now gets even more difficult as Mozilla is all set to enter the iPad browser development fray with its own product: the Junior. Taking a detour from building something from an existing Firefox version, Mozilla has decided to conceive a path-breaking browser that will redefine tablet-based browsing. If the statements of Alex Lemi from Mozilla are anything to go by, iPad users across the globe might soon have something to rejoice. Lemi said that the company was trying to make a product for a new form factor; a tablet which is a deviation from their standard offerings. Even though they can’t port their rendering engine to the iOS, there is a prime reason why a Mozilla product should exist for the iOS. Because, the company does not enjoy any sort of a presence on one of the widest mobile consumer platforms.

Considering the limited design real estate that an iPad interface presents, Mozilla is all set to provide an optimized UI. We are talking no tabs and no address bars, but a clean clutter-free UI. Then how do I surf the web? A full-screen app, Junior integrates 2 buttons about 2/3rd of a way down the screen. On the left is the arrow, which does what it does best; takes you back to the previous page. On the right is the plus sign, which opens up a screen alongside the browser that hosts quite a few features. First up are the recently visited sites and favorites/bookmarks. Below that is the search or URL bar. Typing here brings up suggestions which allow you to stay on the same screen. The elimination of tabs does not mean this iPad app will be without the common reload and forward options. Another clever option that you would be provided with is separate user accounts which provide enhanced privacy, considering the iPad might be used as a family device. This ensures that your web history is concealed from your family members who might want to peek into what you have been up to. On the flip side, there’s no tab strip or the Awesome bar that is a feature of the Android version of Firefox. You cannot swipe left or right to reveal a menu on Junior.

The inability to bring Mozilla’s Gecko HTML engine to the iOS platform must be a major hindrance, but the developers at Mozilla seem to have it all figured out. But, one thing for sure is that iPad users will have to do without the native port that comes as a part of Firefox. Using the WebKit HTML engine available from Apple for all developers, Mozilla has propped up Junior on iPads. Junior integrates the foundation of Appcelerator’s Titanium framework, but not without difficulties if the whispers from the developers are to be believed. Rapid development of the initial prototype has then been marred with difficulties, leading to the views that the final version might be based on Objective C.

This is not the first instance of Mozilla venturing into the iOS scene. In the past, they made their foray into this lucrative arena by providing a combination of Safari with Firefox Sync. This combination was launched for the iPhone, iPad and the iPod Touch. We will have to keep our eyes peeled and hopes high to see if Firefox Sync is provided with Junior, once its development is finished. There are quite a few features that are still under discussion, and the final version of Junior may sport many a surprise when it completes its development lifecycle. What might speed up this process though, are the deliberations that Google might soon release a version of its Chrome browser for the iOS platform.

Mozilla has always believed in allowing users to test their products before their inception. But this, it seems, would not hold true for Junior owing to the application distribution restrictions imposed by Apple and iOS. User will get the first taste of this browser only when it is launched and hosted on the App Store, which might take some time. Once live, Junior will have to contend with Apple’s Safari browser which enjoys the largest user share, along with third-party browser apps such as Atomix, Dolphin, Mercury, Opera Mini, and Skyfire. Mozilla, reportedly has been audacious, and has said that it wants to reinvent the iPad browser arena. Calling Safari a miserable and substandard experience for iPad users, the company has also made it clear that as of now it is the optimum browsing solution.

We will be tuned into this segment, and try and keep track of the latest updates on Junior. We are an offshore software development company that has always believed in simplifying the outsourcing experience through seamless project co-ordination and a great value-for-money experience. Having delivered countless software projects to clients across the globe, we have gained valuable experience in the process. Our iPad application development services are state-of-the-art and are keyed in to incorporate the latest development on the iOS front. Our talented pool of iPad app developers is primed to leverage the cutting-edge features of iOS 6 and develop apps that will enrich user experience and generate high ROI.

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