Apple may be keeping most of the best-known Web browsers off its mobile devices, but that isn’t stopping Mozilla, maker of the Firefox browser, from developing an iPhone application. Mozilla described its “Firefox Home” app in a blog post. It won’t be a full Web browser, but it will let users do things like view their bookmarks, Internet history, and open tabs.
To be honest, it sounds pretty underpowered — sure, the app offers some convenience, but it will have a hard time competing with the ability to actually browse the Web. Still, Mozilla insists that the app has its uses:
- Left work in a hurry? You can pick up where you left off with access to the list of tabs you just had open on your desktop.
- Need those directions to that restaurant you were just reading about on your desktop? The confirmation code for your flight? Just start typing in the Awesome Bar and those pages will be right at your fingertips.
- Does it drive you crazy to have to enter the full URL on your iPhone that you’ve visited several times from your desktop? You won’t need to anymore with this app.
More than anything, I read the post as another sign of how companies are shaping their behavior to play by Apple’s rules, similar in some ways to how a growing number of Web companies have abandoned Adobe’s Flash format since it doesn’t work on the iPhone. Mozilla has actually built a version of Firefox for Nokia phones, but it’s still trying to get onto Apple’s devices, even in this limited format.
You could also see this as another sign that it’s important to deliver an integrated experience between your computer and your phone — the same kind of cross-device synchronization that Google’s Vic Gundotra demonstrated on-stage last week while declaring, in a swipe at Apple, “That’s how you do a cloud-to-device API.”
Meanwhile, Opera managed to get its browser approved for the iPhone, even though it seems to go against Apple’s ban on browsers that aren’t based on the Webkit framework. The reasons for Apple’s approval remain unclear.
So why did Opera make the cut while Firefox hasn’t? I asked Mozilla and got pointed to the app’s Frequently Asked Questions page, which only says, “Due to constraints with the OS environment and distribution, we cannot provide users the full Firefox browsing experience on the iPhone.”
Mozilla says it plans to submit the app for approval in mid-June.
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