Firefox OS: a new web-based mobile platform emerges

Firefox OS

Mozilla has been planning its attempt at a mobile OS for a long time. After being heavily rumored for months, it unveiled "Boot to Gecko" at MWC 2012, and in the year since has developed it into more of a fully-fledged operating system named Firefox OS. At launch, it'll be aimed at low-end, low-cost devices, and targeted at emerging markets. After that, it'll expand to the US and beyond in a broader attack on the market. You can find all our Firefox OS coverage right here, including up-to-date news, features, and videos.

28 updates and 1631 comments below.

Jan 06 2:00p

Panasonic and Mozilla join forces to develop Firefox OS-powered Smart TVs

Firefox OS, Mozilla's HTML5-based platform designed to go toe-to-toe with iOS and Android, may soon find its way into the living room. Panasonic announced today that it's partnering with the software company to help "develop and promote" Firefox OS on next-gen Smart TVs, with the goal of turning the operating system into a hub for future Smart Homes. The move marks Mozilla's first major foray into the war for TV.

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Nov 14 10:52a

Mozilla backtracks, says no current plans to launch Firefox phones in US

Mozilla currently has no plans to bring Firefox OS smartphones to the United States, reports CNET. Though Mozilla previously said that it expected to see phones running the new operating system launch next year in the US, it now says there are no such plans for that to happen. That doesn't mean Firefox OS won't be coming to the United States at all though: it is already available through a developer device, and Mozilla is reportedly speaking with partners about the possibility of bringing it...

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Aug 12 9:08a

ZTE turns to eBay to sell Open Firefox OS smartphone in the US and UK

Smartphones running the new Firefox OS have been launched by a couple of carriers around the world (most notably by Telefónica in Spain and South America), but a widespread launch in the US and UK is still a ways off. Despite that, ZTE still wants to sell its Open Firefox smartphone to consumers willing to pay for it in those countries, so it has turned to eBay to peddle its wares. The Open is ZTE's first Firefox phone, and while it won't get any hardware geeks excited with its 3.5-inch HVGA...

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Jul 01 6:52p

Android too chunky for cheap phones, says Firefox OS creator

In February, we got our first look at Mozilla's Firefox OS, a smartphone operating system built on the open web. On the first two phones, the ZTE Open and Alcatel One Touch, it was a laggy, terrible experience. We'd hoped that Mozilla would improve that by launch, but apparently not: though the ZTE Open will go on sale in Spain tomorrow, we found the phone as unimpressive as ever at today's Mozilla event.

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Mozilla targets Android and Asha as first Firefox OS smartphone goes on sale

After months in development, Mozilla's Firefox OS is ready for the public. Today, the company announced that the first two handsets running the open-source HTML5 operating system — the ZTE Open and the Alcatel One Touch Fire — will soon go on sale in limited markets. Consumers in Spain won't have long to wait after Telefónica-owned Movistar announced the 3.5-inch ZTE Open smartphone will go on sale from tomorrow, costing €69 / $90 (including €30 / $39 balance) for prepay customers.


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May 27 8:04p

Foxconn joining Firefox OS alliance as it tries to compensate for Apple slowdown

The first smartphones running Firefox OS went on sale last month, and it looks like Mozilla is now adding the builder of some of the world's most popular devices to its coalition. Engadget reports that Mozilla and Foxconn Technology Group have confirmed a joint press event in Taipei on June 3rd, during which they will formally announce that Foxconn has signed on to Mozilla's initiative. At least one new Firefox OS device is expected at the event, although it's not clear if the product will be...

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Apr 22 1:19p

First Mozilla Firefox OS phones going on sale Tuesday

We've heard a lot about the open, HTML5-focused strategy behind Mozilla's Firefox OS for mobile devices, but that will all be put to the test starting this week. The first two smartphones running Firefox OS — Keon and Peak, low-end developer models from Spanish startup company Geeksphone — are set to open for worldwide pre-order as early as tomorrow, possibly Wednesday, according to The Next Web. Pricing is still in flux, according to the report, but Keon should start at around 115 euros...

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Apr 07 12:30a

Mozilla announces new web payment mechanism to debut on Firefox OS

Mozilla is working on a new JavaScript API, first appearing in the Firefox OS, that will make it easy for people to pay for digital goods and services on the web, either using a credit card, or by adding the purchase to their monthly carrier bills. According to a blog post from Firefox OS engineer Kumar McMillan, navigator.mozPay() is based on Google Wallet's API, but modified for multiple payment providers and, importantly, carrier billing. When a web app invokes the API, a "secure window...

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Feb 28 10:00a

Certified 'Powered by Firefox OS' devices require Firefox Marketplace, minimum hardware specs

Mozilla says that in order for Firefox OS phones to bear the Firefox logo, they'll need to meet a variety of software and hardware requirements, including mandatory installations of the Firefox mobile browser and the official Firefox Marketplace app store.

Though the existence of a "blessed hardware" program is similar to Google's model for Android — which only permits compliant devices to ship with the Google Play store, the Gmail app, and other elements — there's a key difference: Mozilla...

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Feb 27 1:40p

With Firefox OS, Mozilla gets a little dirty to clean the mobile web

At MWC this week, showgoers are finally getting a look at the first Firefox OS devices that will come to market in the next few months.

To be blunt, they’re not very good: the ZTE Open and Alcatel One Touch Fire look and feel like low-end handsets from two or three years ago. The operating system — which is "made of the web," as Mozilla proudly proclaims — seems to struggle at times to overcome the cheap silicon it’s been saddled with.

But "good" is a relative term. Firefox OS could...

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Feb 25 7:53p

Samsung reportedly uninterested in Firefox OS for its budget phones

Sony may be on board, but there's at least one company that isn't interested in Firefox OS: Samsung won't be working with the new operating system, according to CNET. Mozilla's OS is intended for devices in regions that are just now adopting smartphones, a market that Samsung seems to have in mind for its own Tizen operating system. Samsung is only one partner in Tizen's development, but the company today announced plans to fold its previous homegrown operating system, Bada OS, into Tizen — a...

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Sony developing Firefox OS hardware, hopes to release first product in 2014

Firefox OS just landed another major hardware vendor: Sony has announced its engineers are currently developing hardware running the new operating system and that it aims to bring a product to market in 2014. The news was part of an announcement between Sony Mobile and wireless carrier Telefonica. Both companies have signed onto a multi-year agreement that, aside from guaranteeing continued support for Sony's Android lineup, creates "a joint technical collaboration to explore the development...

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Mozilla CEO expects Firefox OS phones for US in 2014

At a Q&A session this afternoon, Mozilla CEO Gary Kovacs mentioned that he expects Firefox OS phones to hit the US "somewhere in the 2014 timeframe." That would be after the first round of launches that are being spearheaded this summer, mostly by European carriers with global presence in emerging markets and areas where smartphones running iOS and Android haven't already taken hold. (The ZTE Open being shown here, for instance, most certainly won't be sold by an American carrier.)

But which...

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Alcatel brings Firefox OS to its budget lineup with the One Touch Fire

We're seeing the first wave of Firefox OS smartphones at Mozilla's MWC event, including Alcatel's One Touch Fire, which shares the stage with ZTE's Open. Like the Open, the One Touch Fire is small and fairly low-end: it's based on the Keon reference design, with a 3.5-inch screen and 1GHz processor. There's a 3.2-megapixel rear-facing camera, 256MB of RAM, and 512MB of storage, expandable with an SD card. That's similar to what we've seen on the low end of Alcatel's One Touch Pop line of...

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Mozilla announces first round of Firefox OS apps and initial carriers

Mozilla's Firefox OS event is just kicking off, but the company is announcing a number of new details on both the hardware and software front. A first round of apps has been confirmed, and it includes unsurprising selections like Facebook and Twitter — two apps that are essential for a proper mobile experience. There are also the usual suspects in the gaming realm, including Cut the Rope, Where's My Water, Where's My Perry, and games from EA. Other options include Box, SoundCloud, and...

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ZTE Open is the first official Firefox OS phone (hands-on)

Mozilla's preparing to make some big announcements at Mobile World Congress, but it's let one cat out of the bag ahead of its press conference. The ZTE Open is the first phone we've seen running Firefox OS other than a few developer units, and just as we figured it's an extremely low-end device. It's very small, and feels pretty good to hold, but we immediately noticed its washed-out screen. Details are scarce for the moment, but we've heard rumblings that the Open is running a Cortex A5...

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Jan 22 7:46a

Mozilla reveals two developer phones for Firefox OS

Mozilla has today revealed a partnership with Spanish startup Geeksphone for a pair of Firefox OS developer devices, Keon and Peak. In line with the company's pursuit of low-end, emerging markets, the company is making more noise about the Keon model. It's a very basic device more akin to a featurephone than a fully-fledged smartphone. Powered by a single-core 1GHz Snapdragon S1 from Qualcomm, it has a 480 x 320 HVGA touchscreen, 512MB of RAM, and 4GB of on-board storage, along with a...

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Jan 07 10:32p

Mozilla's Firefox OS demoed, coming to emerging markets later this year (hands-on)

Mozilla is at CES showing off its upcoming Firefox mobile OS on a prototype device. It's come a long way since we saw it as "Boot to Gecko" back at MWC last February, and now looks a bit more like a fully-fledged operating system — Mozilla say it's two weeks from being completed. It's aimed at low-end, low-cost devices, and will be restricted to single-core 800MHz processors at launch. Mozilla's UI philosophy here is similar to Android: unlocking the phone takes you to a homescreen that can...

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Sep 26 6:13p

Mozilla shares an in-depth look at the design philosophy behind Firefox OS

For those who are waiting for Mozilla to finally take the wraps off Firefox OS, "early 2013" feels a long ways off. However, if you want to whet your appetite for the long-awaited project, the official Mozilla blog has shared a wealth of details behind the design of the forthcoming OS. The post itself is essentially a recap of a presentation given at MozCamp Warsaw earlier this month; in it, designer Patryk Adamczyk walks through the design philosophy, iconography, typography, and sound...

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Sep 19 6:04a

ZTE aiming for Q1 2013 launch for Firefox OS smartphone

ZTE is coordinating with Mozilla to release a handset running Firefox OS in the first quarter of next year. The Wall Street Journal and Reuters both report that ZTE is looking to diversify its product portfolio to shift reliance away from Android and Windows Phone. According to ZTE spokesperson David Dai Shu, the company is working with "a regional telecom carrier outside of China." It’s unclear exactly who ZTE is referring to, but Mozilla has previously announced partnerships with carriers...

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Sep 03 5:37p

Mozilla's Firefox OS Marketplace detailed in leaked screenshots

Mozilla has been demoing its Firefox OS (née Boot to Gecko) since Mobile World Congress earlier this year (and developers have had access to it since this summer), but there are still a lot of unknowns with regards to how the final product will look when it arrives in 2013. One question appears to have been answered today, as Engadget has obtained what it says are images of a fairly complete version of the Firefox OS Marketplace. As expected, the Marketplace will be where users go to download...

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Aug 16 12:17p

Raspberry Pi runs ported version of Mozilla's web-based Firefox OS

While smartphones running Mozilla's web-based Firefox OS aren't expected to ship until 2013, that hasn't stopped enthusiasts from porting the open source operating system to other platforms. The latest device to get a version of the system — formerly known as Boot to Gecko — is the Raspberry Pi, the $25 card-sized computer designed to promote computer science in schools.

In the video below, developer Oleg Romashin demonstrates the device performing some basic functions such as swiping...

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Jul 19 6:00p

New Firefox OS nightly builds available to download

Earlier today, Mozilla uploaded new nightly builds of its web standards-based mobile operating system, Firefox OS. You can download and try them for yourself, but be warned: this isn't your garden variety application install. You'll first have to install one of the nightlies from Mozilla's website, then use the command line to download and configure Gaia, the HTML 5 UI layer. Don't worry if we've already lost you — these builds are mostly intended to be used as a tool for developers to test...

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Jul 02 9:02a

Firefox OS coming to Telefónica in 2013, Sprint and others to follow

Mozilla made a big announcement about its long-awaited Boot to Gecko (B2G) project today, officially dubbing it 'Firefox OS' and revealing that the first devices running the web-based platform will be produced by Chinese manufacturers ZTE and TCL Corporation. The foundation also laid out details of new carrier partnerships with Smart, Sprint, Telecom Italia and Telenor, adding to previously-announced agreements with Telefónica and Deutsche Telekom.

According to a press release, the initial...

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Jun 06 1:24a

Mozilla shows off web apps accessing phone sensors with WebAPI

We've been pretty impressed by Mozilla's powerful HTML5-based phone OS, Boot to Gecko, which can do anything from send messages to play Cut the Rope with the equivalent of web apps and bookmarks. A similar project is WebAPI, an attempt by Mozilla to help developers standardize web content to work on a wide range of hardware. In the demo below, developer Paul Rouget shows how an app based on some of the WebAPIs can access the accelerometer, the proximity sensor, or the battery of an HTC phone.


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Feb 27 8:51a

Mozilla's Boot to Gecko project: the internet is your phone (hands-on video)

We stopped by Mozilla's booth at MWC today, and in addition to all the Firefox promotion the company's doing, it was also showing off something a little different: its Boot to Gecko project. Boot to Gecko is, in essence, a phone operating system that is entirely web- and HTML5-based. From the moment you turn the phone on, everything you see is HTML5. Even the dialer uses Mozilla's "telephony APIs," and is itself web-based. There are no native apps, just a series of the most impressive...

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Mozilla, Telefonica partnering on Boot to Gecko-enabled 'Open Web Devices' for 2012 (updated)

Mozilla has been working on its Boot to Gecko project since last year to create devices that can "boot to the web," running an HTML-based platform with the goal of providing the same level of performance and immersive performance in apps as other operating systems can. The company has announced today that it is hooking up with Telefonica — a carrier brand with presence around the world — to deliver an Open Web Device platform this year with Boot to Gecko baked in, the goal being to pump out...

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Nov 07 3:09p

Boot to Gecko open web-based mobile OS being tested by Mozilla

With Firefox only available for Android and Maemo, Mozilla hasn't made many inroads on the mobile front, but that doesn't mean it's sitting still. The open source organization has been working on a project called Boot to Gecko, or B2G, with the goal of building a standalone OS allowing web developers to build apps that are equal "in every way" to native apps built for iOS, Android, or Windows Phone. To that end, B2G is creating new web APIs that safely expose capabilities like the phone,...

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