Mozilla's new browser called "Junior" isn't just a version of Firefox for the Apple iPad, it's a brand new take on browsing from a tablet.
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Mozilla is taking an interesting approach with respect to Apple's iPad. Rather than adapt its marquee product for the popular iOS platform, it is starting from scratch with a brand new product called Junior. Mozilla believes that Junior will help reinvent browsing on tablets.
The iPad is not without choice. It ships with the Safari browser for iOS, which may not be everyone's favorite, but has a significant number of strengths when it comes to its WebKit engine and HTML5 prowess. Opera Software makes a version of its mobile browser for the iPad, as do other companies such as Atomic, Dolphin, Mercury, and Skyfire.
These third-party apps provide alternatives to those who dislike Safari, but each has its own quirks, pros, and cons.
Now there's Junior.
Mozilla's Alex Limi introduced the project at an event last week, and called it "the fun stuff." Mozilla notes that it needed a different approach for iOS. "There are a lot of reasons we should be on iOS even though we can't bring our rendering engine there," said Limi. He decried the fact that Mozilla has "no vehicle on one of the biggest consumer platforms in the world." That's why the company developed Junior.
"We wanted to make something entirely new. We wanted to look into how we could reinvent the browser for a new form factor," said Limi, while also suggesting that the native Safari browser on the iPad is "a miserable experience."
Junior really pares down the user interface. To start, there is no address bar, nor are there tabs running along the top of the app. Instead, there are but two buttons: a "back" button, and a "plus" button that brings up a single window pane that includes bookmarks, viewing history, and a search bar. The idea is to allow the website to consume as much of the display as possible, and leave the surrounding "chrome" to other browsers.
Another interesting feature of Junior is that it supports multiple accounts, each with its own set of bookmarks, favorites, and so on. This means the device can be passed between users without revealing private items such as Web browsing history.
Based on the designs and demonstrations shown by Mozilla, the company wants the mobile browsing experience to be simpler and more straightforward. While that approach is understandable, sometimes device users need raw features to get things done.
For now, Junior is just a project and not a shipping product. You can take a look at Junior in a presentation offered up by Mozilla, which outlines other projects as well.
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