Mozilla developing Firefox Junior for the iPad (video)

18 Jun 2012

Mozilla has demonstrated a new browser prototype for the iPad dubbed Firefox Junior, bringing the battle of the browser to the tablet.

Alex Limi from Mozilla’s product design and strategy team introduces Firefox Junior by saying, “it isn’t not a browser.” He stumbles over this description because building a browser experience for the iPad has meant stripping out a lot of the features desktop users take for granted and instead adopting a tablet-focused user interface.

The restrictions around Apple’s iOS means Mozilla has to build Firefox Junior using the same WebKit as Safari for the iPad, so its key unique selling points will lie in its interface and features.

The aim of the development is to create a tablet browser with a desktop feel that affords great usability and engagement, and makes use of the iPad’s Retina display.

No more tabs

To create a magazine-like feel, the toolbar has been sacrificed, which also means no tabbed browsing. Mozilla’s Trond Werner Lansen explains that iPad users browse in a different way to desktop users in that they are always moving forward, quick searching and looking up bits and pieces as opposed to browsing for work or in-depth research.

To optimise the experience for tablet users, the team at Mozilla did consider a fully gesture-based browser, but instead decided that key operations, like a back button and ‘plus’ button, will be placed conveniently within a thumb’s reach on either side of the iPad.

The plus button brings you to recent sites, favourites or search, all in one screen. Links are arranged as branded icons, for increased user recognition.

A multi-user experience

Limi also introduces a multi-user approach for Firefox Junior that addresses the fact that – unlike smartphones – tablet computers may be shared among members of a household. To enable this, the Junior edition allows the creation of separate user accounts with unique logins accessed by a swipe to the left of the main navigation page. This would save the time and hassle of inputting your Facebook and Google login details every time you browse as you can have a separate browser account that remembers your details.

There’s no word yet on when Firefox Junior will be released, but the video below gives a good preview of what’s to come.


Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.