Firefox is one of the most popular web browsers out there today, and as such, the non-profit Mozilla organisation has decided to take things further, with a new phone operating system called, simply Firefox OS.
Firefox OS is built on the company’s open policy and is open source software built on HTML5, that many see as the future of the web. As such, the core software and the apps, call use HTML5. It’s a pretty bold move in software, but Firefox OS isnt really meant to take on iOS or Android, but aims to expand mobile usage for emerging markets, allowing manufacturers to create super-cheap phones with the capabilities of smartphones. If manufacturers want to use Windows Phone or Android, for example, they have to pay a hefty certification charge, whereas this isnt an issue with Firefox OS.
At MWC 2013, Mozilla announced their plans for the expansion of Firefox OS, and that the first countries to get devices based on the new OS would be “Brazil, Colombia, Hungary, Mexico, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia, Spain and Venezuela.” They also had a couple units ready to show off at their booth, so I figured I’d go on and record a quick little demonstration of Firefox OS:
Manufacturers interested in the OS include ZTE, LG and Alcatel which also make really cheap phones. Inside of using the decent processor, like the 1Ghz cortex A5 used on the ZTE Open shown off in the demo, the system was noticeably slow at operation. Scrolling around was a bit laggy and apps can take a couple of seconds to open up so you often have to state blankly at a screen waiting for twitter to start up, etc. To be honest, it feels like the early says of Nokia’s S40 in terms of speed, and the early days of Android in terms of bugs, heh.
Firefox OS seemed like a simpler version of Android, with a ‘flat’ menu listing with no folders, and iOS-like pages of app icons. There was a wide array of apps pre-installed but it does feel a bit skeletal compared to what we’re used to. Whether this is an issue for users really depends on how cheap Firefox OS phones actually are when they launch. They’re going to have to be a lot cheaper than Android devices, and even cheaper than Nokia’s awesome new Asha devices to even think of competing.
I wouldnt say I was necessarily disappointed, but I do admit that Firefox OS still needs some work. With the Asha lineup and Samsung’s new REX line of phones, competition in the super-cheap-phone-market is heading up!