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  1. Code
  2. iOS 8
Code

A Firefox Experience for iOS

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What You'll Be Creating

A Firefox Experience for iOS

In the past few months, Mozilla has been hinting that they might start to work on a Firefox experience for iOS. Recently Firefox VP Jonathan Nightingale said at Mozilla's work week of 2014 (Mozlandia, Portland): "We need to be where our users are so we're going to get Firefox on iOS".

Tweet by Matthew Ruttley Firefox for iOS Lets do this

With the release of iOS 8, Apple provided developers full access to its fast JavaScript engine. Earlier, the Nitro engine was exclusive to Safari, as a result of which third party browsers such as Google Chrome were slower than Safari. Firefox will only work on iOS 8 and above, as it uses WKWebView.

"We are in the early stages of experimenting with something that allows iOS users to be able to choose a Firefox experience," Mozilla's press release center said in a blog post. "We work in the open at Mozilla and are just starting to experiment, so we'll update you when we have more to share."

The GitHub repository for the Firefox for iOS project's first commit was made on 4th November 2014. The repository is chiefly written in C, Objective-C, Swift, C++ and JavaScript. It also makes use of popular Swift libraries like Alamofire and SwiftyJSON. The project uses Bugzilla for bug management and tracking pull requests. However, GitHub issues are enabled for the repository as well.

Since Firefox for iOS is still under planning and development, we had a few questions about it. Karen Rudnitski, Senior Manager, Firefox Mobile at Mozilla was kind enough to answer our questions about Mozilla's upcoming product.

1. How different/ similar is the product going to be as compared to other versions of Firefox for different mobile OSs?

Karen points out, "Our goal is to ensure there is product familiarity across all of our Firefox products. This is also balanced with ensuring users of each OS we support also have the same sense of familiarity with their chosen platform."

2. What is the current priority of the project?

She says, "We are actively working, developing and iterating on the product. It is a product we all want to see in the market so it is resourced accordingly. "

3. Is Firefox for iOS going to showcase any new features?

Karen adds, "Our mindset is to start thinking how selected new Firefox features can be accessed by all of our Firefox browsers, regardless of the platform. Specifically regarding Firefox for iOS, it's still a little too early to confirm the final feature list as we're still quite early in the cycle. But our aim is to provide delight to existing Firefox users who have an iPhone or iPad, as well as anyone interested in stepping into the Firefox ecosystem for the first time on iOS."

Key Features

Mozilla's wiki lists some key features that will be available in Firefox for iOS.

  1. Ability to sign in / sign up to a Firefox account
  2. Sync open tabs
  3. Sync bookmarks
  4. Search
  5. Push [synced] passwords out
  6. New passwords
  7. View articles attached to Reading List
  8. ‘Send Tab to’ action
  9. Sharing

You can see the details of the above listed features on the Mozilla wiki.

Getting Involved

You can view the GitHub repository for the project, or ask for help at Mozilla's IRC in the #mobile channel. You can also subscribe to the mailing list for the project.

You can also file a new bug for the project, or browse the existing bugs. The description of the repository warns: "Don't get too attached to this code. Tomorrow everything will be different." This is because there may be large amounts of changes in the codebase before the code is ready for release.

Conclusion

Mozilla Foundation's new initiative will bring users of iOS more freedom of choice while accessing the web. An open web allows the denizens of net the right to privacy, and Firefox is best known for being the most ardent supporter of an open web and net neutrality. You can get the latest updates by following Fennec iOS on Twitter.

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