Mobile Technology News & Mobile Fun

Mozilla submits Firefox iPhone app, but it’s not exactly a browser

By Ed Oswald, Betanews

Firefox may be coming to your iPhone soon, however not in the form you might expect. Mozilla on Wednesday said that it submitted an app called “Firefox Home” to Apple for iTunes App Store approval, an application which would sync browser activity between the user’s iPhone and desktop.

It is not a separate browser, as Mozilla knows that Apple would likely reject it if it was. Instead, Firefox uses the WebKit API provided by Apple and intended for use in web browsing applications.

Mozilla made it clear that Firefox is not coming anytime soon. “We do not have plans to ship the Firefox browser for the iPhone,” it says in its FAQ. “Due to constraints with the OS environment and distribution, we cannot provide users Firefox for the iPhone.”

That said, where Firefox Home differentiates itself from other web browsing applications is the interactivity between the desktop browser and the iPhone.

Users will be able to access their browser history, bookmarks, and even open tabs. The information is sent into the cloud, and the iPhone application pulls the data it needs from there. Data can be either viewed within the application, or using Safari Mobile.

Mozilla says that Firefox Sync is required to use Firefox Home when it becomes available. That free add-on for the browser is available from Mozilla’s website.

The company had originally released that application as a method to allow the user to sync data between two desktop installations of Firefox. Like the iPhone application, that information is synced to the cloud as well.

What is not immediately clear is whether or not Apple will approve Mozilla’s effort. The Cupertino company’s track record when it comes to applications that may pose a competitive threat is somewhat inconsistent.

For example, Opera’s port of its mobile Mini browser all but sailed through the approval process this April. However, last year it refused to approve Google Voice for iPhone, stating it competed with features already available on the iPhone.

What may be the real rejection on a competitive basis is whether or not an approval would upset its partners, or would pose a real threat to Apple’s dominance. It could be argued Opera’s somewhat quirky browser did not, while Google did, and Mozilla very well could.

Copyright Betanews, Inc. 2010

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