Mozilla may not be able to get Firefox approved for the iPhone but perhaps it will be able to win acceptance for its personalization and synchronization technology.
Unable to secure approval from Apple for Firefox on the iPhone, Mozilla on Wednesday offered a preview of the next best thing, Firefox Home.
Firefox Home is an iPhone app -- not yet submitted to the App Store for review -- that makes the user's Firefox bookmarks, browsing history and recent browser tabs available in conjunction with WebKit-rendered Web pages.
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WebKit is the layout engine used by Apple's Safari and Google Chrome. It's the only Apple-authorized means of displaying Web pages in iPhone applications. Firefox relies on the Gecko layout engine, while Internet Explorer relies on a layout engine called Trident.
Mozilla Weave product manager Ragavan Srinivasan says that the app is part of a broader initiative to make the Web more personal and to offer users more control. But he concedes Firefox Home is something less than the complete Firefox experience.
"For devices or platforms where we're unable to provide the 'full' Firefox browser (either technically or due to policy), we aim to provide users with 'on the go' instant access to their personal Firefox history, bookmarks and open tabs on their iPhones, giving them another reason to keep loving Firefox on their desktops," he explains in a blog post.
Srinivasan suggests Firefox Home may be useful for a variety of scenarios, such as being able to pull up a list of browser tabs currently or recently opened on your desktop computer and being able to type just a few characters to bring up bookmarked or recently visited Web pages.
That's not quite the level of personalization and control that attracted so many users to Firefox in the first place. But when you need permission to develop, that's how it goes.
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