File Under: Browsers, HTML5, Mobile

New Simulator Showcases Mozilla’s Coming Firefox OS

Firefox OS’s lock screen, app screen and Twitter app. Image: Screenshot/Webmonkey

Mozilla has released version 1.0 of its Firefox OS Simulator, a new add-on for Firefox that makes it easy for web developers to start building apps for Mozilla’s coming mobile Firefox OS.

Despite the 1.0 status, Mozilla’s Hacks blog still refers to the Firefox OS Simulator as a “preview” — largely because Firefox OS itself is still in development. The Simulator, however, is much less buggy than the release I tested last month (and the problems with the Linux and Windows builds have been resolved).

If you’d like to get started building apps for Firefox OS, the Simulator now has an official page on Mozilla’s Add-Ons site. Once it’s installed and running you’ll get a preview of what Firefox OS will be like on a mobile device.

Locked out of Apple’s iOS due to the platform’s developer limitations and only recently beginning to create a truly competitive browser on Android, Mozilla’s long-term mobile plan is to create its own mobile operating system built entirely on open web technologies.

Although the company has since switched to the “Firefox OS” moniker, the original name, Boot2Gecko, neatly captures Mozilla’s take on the mobile operating system — essentially turning the Firefox web browser into an operating system.

That means building apps for Firefox OS is just like building apps for the web. HTML, CSS and JavaScript form the foundation and emerging web standards like WebRTC help bridge the gap between Firefox OS and device hardware.

To run the Simulator in Firefox open up the “Simulator Manager” by selecting the Firefox OS Simulator option in the Web Developer menu. Once the Simulator Manager is running you’ll see controls to start and stop the Simulator and a JS Console option to see any error messages as you build your app. If you need help getting started, this video from Mozilla walks you through the process step by step:

For more on how to get started using the Simulator and building apps for Firefox OS, see our earlier post as well as the Mozilla Hacks blog, especially the very thorough tutorial from Mozilla community member Luca Greco, who walks through nearly the entire process of building and testing an app on Firefox OS.