Firefox gets mobile and adds geolocation

8 Oct 2008

The Mozilla Foundation is bringing Firefox, its popular open source web browser, to the mobile phone with an alpha version to be released within the next few weeks, said chief executive, John Lilly.

“We want to make sure that the web on mobile is more like the web than what the mobile industry offers today, which is closed, separate networks and not a very good information-getting experience for the user,” Lily told the San Jose Mercury News.

While no specific devices were mentioned, there will be more than one alpha release, so we can expect it to work across several mobile phone operating systems (OS) – the question is which? Will it be on Symbian, Linux (most likely, with Google’s Android included in this), Windows Mobile devices, the BlackBerry OS?

One thing we will not see is Firefox mobile for the iPhone, according to Gizmodo because of the restrictions to developers working with Apple’s software developers kit for the handset.

However, as popular as Firefox is on the desktop, I can’t see Safari mobile users complaining too much, what with the arguably superior browsing experience already on the iPhone. (But we could do with a Flash plug-in, guys!)

Mozilla has also been working hard on integrating functionality that one would normally associate with a mobile handset into its desktop browser – location awareness in the form of Geode, a new plug-in which launched yesterday.

Basically, Geode is a simple geolocation plug-in for Firefox enabling Wi-Fi-based positioning that conforms to the W3C Geolocation specification. This will allow developers to work on location-aware applications within the desktop browser.

“Imagine an RSS reader that knows the difference between home and work, and automatically changes its behaviour appropriately,” said Mozilla Labs.

“Or a news site whose local section is, in fact, always actually local. Or a bank that only allows you to log in from certain physical locations, like your house.”

By Marie Boran