Firefox announces iPhone App

Ian Paul, PC World


Mozilla has announced plans to launch a free iPhone Application that will let you access most of your Firefox browser data on the iPhone. Called Firefox Home , the native iPhone app gives you access to your Firefox browser history, bookmarks, and Awesome Bar. Home will also sync any currently open tabs from Firefox on your desktop to the iPhone, giving you "on the go" instant access to important Web pages.

It's not clear when Firefox Home will become available, but Mozilla says it plans to submit the app to Apple in June, at which point Apple will either approve or reject it. Firefox Home is designed for the iPhone and iPod Touch, and Mozilla has not announced plans for a version for the iPad.

Not Firefox

Firefox Home sounds like a useful tool for Firefox users who want to sync their browser data with their mobile device. It will allow you to view Web pages within the application, but Firefox Home will not be a full fledged mobile browser like Opera Mini for iPhone. Apple prohibits third-party applications from including their own rendering engine and JavaScript interpreter, according to Mozilla. Instead, applications must use the iPhone's technology for these processes, which basically means Firefox's underlying technology can't be used on the iPhone. Opera got around this problem by rendering Web pages on its servers and then sending the finished page to the iPhone.

Firefox Home will also be a one-way channel, meaning you can send your desktop browsing information to your iPhone, but you will not be able to send data from your iPhone to desktop versions of Firefox.

One solution to the one-way data problem would be to build a JavaScript bookmarklet for Safari for iPhone that would let you sync your iPhone browsing data with Firefox; however, Mozilla says it has no plans to do this at the moment.

No Password Management

Mozilla's app also won't have any password management features, even though all the data sent from the desktop to your iPhone will be encrypted. So while your data will be secure, you won't be able to export saved passwords to the iPhone for accessing things like e-mail, Facebook, or financial services.

Mozilla's iPhone application is part of a broader plan to bring multi-platform syncing capabilities to Firefox users through Firefox Sync  -- formerly known as Weave. Currently, Sync is available as Firefox add-on, but Mozilla says the feature has graduated from Mozilla Labs status and will be incorporated into a major upcoming release of Firefox.

Firefox Home for iPhone Demo:

Connect with Ian on Twitter (@ianpaul ).

Reprinted with permission from Story copyright 2010 PC World Communications. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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