All posts tagged ‘Firefox OS’

File Under: Mobile

First Firefox OS Developer Phones Sell Out

The Firefox OS-based Geeksphone. Image: Screenshot/Webmonkey.

The first Firefox OS-powered mobile devices, manufactured by the Spanish company Geeksphone, went on sale today. Unfortunately for anyone hoping to get their hands on some hardware explicitly designed for Firefox OS, the phones have apparently already sold out.

For the average user that’s probably a good thing. Despite being a 1.0 release on real hardware these phones are not, according to Mozilla, ready for prime time.

Instead these devices are intended for developers looking to build and test applications for Firefox OS. And clearly there’s a lot of interested developers. That’s not terribly surprising given that apps for Firefox OS are built using web basics, like HTML, CSS and JavaScript, which means anyone who can build a website can build a Firefox OS app.

Indeed, thanks to the Firefox OS simulator there are already quite a few Firefox OS apps available. But while the simulator is helpful, it’s just not the same as testing on an actual device. Having actual hardware allows developers to “test the capabilities of Firefox OS in a real environment with a mobile network and true hardware characteristics like the accelerometer and camera,” writes Stormy Peters, Mozilla’s Director of Developer Engagement.

While Geeksphone may be the first company to produce an actual Firefox OS phone (albeit a “developer preview”), Mozilla has some more familiar hardware makers lined up to produce consumer devices, including Sony, LG and Alcatel, all of which have signed up to turn out Firefox OS mobile phones.

There’s still no official word on when these manufacturers will be joining the Firefox OS party, but Mozilla’s plan is to have a more polished version of its OS out in the next few months, with official releases in Brazil, Venezuela, Portugal, Spain and Poland over the next several months.

One of the Geeksphone devices is on its way to the Webmonkey lair, so we’ll give you the lowdown on what it’s like to develop for Firefox OS as soon as we get a chance to play with it. In the mean time, if you missed out on the Geeksphone today the company is hoping to have more available for sale later this week. Alternately, you can always install Firefox OS on your own device or just use the Firefox OS simulator.

File Under: Browsers, HTML5, Mobile

Mozilla Tempts Mobile Developers With Firefox OS Simulator

Firefox OS’s home screen, dialer and web browser. Image: Screenshot/Webmonkey

Mozilla has released a new version of its experimental Firefox OS Simulator. The Firefox OS Simulator (which also goes by the nerdtastic nickname r2d2b2g) is a new add-on for Firefox that makes it easy for web developers who would like to get their hands dirty building apps for Mozilla’s coming mobile Firefox OS.

Mozilla’s Firefox OS is still in the very early alpha stages, but if you’d like to test your apps in the latest version of the Simulator, head on over to the download page (note that there are known issues running the simulator on Linux and Windows XP).

Firefox OS is Mozilla’s answer to the question how does Firefox stay relevant in an increasingly mobile world? 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.

Applications built for Firefox OS use nothing more than web development tools — everything is made with HTML, CSS and JavaScript — which then run atop Firefox’s Gecko rendering engine.

To make it possible to create full-featured mobile apps with only HTML and other web tools, Mozilla is relying heavily on device-level APIs to tap into everything from dialing phone numbers to listing contacts, taking photos and getting Wi-Fi information. Not all of the APIs Firefox OS uses are web standards yet, though Mozilla has submitted most of them to the W3C for consideration.

Mozilla hardly has a monopoly on using web tools to build mobile apps; that was Apple’s original plan for iOS and it’s also exactly what tools like Phonegap or Cordova allow you to do for iOS, Android and other mobile platforms. The difference with Firefox OS is that you don’t need to package your app up in a native container — there’s no need for Phonegap and its ilk.

While Firefox OS may use familiar web development technologies and may run on the same Gecko engine that already powers the Firefox web browser, developers still need a way to test their apps in a mobile environment, which is where the Firefox OS Simulator comes in.

To get started with the Simulator, first open up the “Simulator Manager” by selecting the new Firefox OS Simulator option in the Firefox Web Developer menu. In the Simulator Manager you’ll find controls to start and stop the Simulator and a JS Console option to see any error messages as you develop.

For more on how to get started using the Simulator and building apps for Firefox OS, see 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.

File Under: Browsers

Raspberry Fox: Mozilla’s Firefox OS Running on a Raspberry Pi

What happens when the tinkerer-friendly, $25 Raspberry Pi computer meets the equally friendly, but still-in-progress Firefox OS? Open source maker/hacker bliss.

Oleg Romashin, an engineer at Nokia, managed to get Firefox OS up and running on a Raspberry Pi, which debuted earlier this year.

The video above shows the Firefox OS Gecko runtime cranking away on the Raspberry Pi. The Raspberry Pi’s ARM11 processor even manages to handle some WebGL animations at 60 frames per second — not bad for a computer that’s only $25, and equally impressive for an OS that’s still in the early, experimental stages.

For more details on what’s happening in the video, check out the YouTube page.