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If you’re wondering why you can’t get Firefox on your iPhone, blame Apple.

Mozilla product vice president Jay Sullivan says a major part of the reason why Firefox hasn’t hit iOS is because of Apple’s policy toward third-party web browsers, reports CNET.

Right now, Apple forces third-party browsers like Chrome to use the UIWebView engine to render webpages. Meanwhile, the mobile version of Safari uses the Nitro JavaScript engine, which is a whole lot speedier.


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While the situation has always whiffed slightly of anti-trust, Apple says it’s all about security: By opening up Nitro to third-party browsers, it risks opening up iOS to a host of new exploits. So Apple limits use of the engine to Safari, which it has control over and can easily patch in the event security problems arise.

For Mozilla, the situation is a bit of a Catch 22: While not being present on iOS means losing out on a massive potential audience, releasing Firefox for iOS at this point means not being able to develop the most powerful browser it can for Apple’s platform.

But were I Jay Sullivan, I’d much rather have a less-than-optimal version of Firefox on iOS than no Firefox at all. After all, the average iPhone user has no idea about the backroom politics of UIWebView vs. Nitro, but they do know that they can’t get Firefox on iOS — if they even know what Firefox is at this point.

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