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No Firefox for iPhone? I Would Have Settled for “Firefox.”

Mozilla has published a blog post on its plans for the iPhone platform. Basically, they involve (A) focusing on Firefox Home, an app that provides access to Firefox bookmarks, tabs, and history on the iPhone; (B) not doing a full-blown version of Firefox for iPhone; and (C) not letting Firefox Home evolve into something so fancy that it feels like Firefox for the iPhone.

Why no Firefox for iPhone? The Mozilla post doesn’t explain in much detail:

People have asked about adding more browser-like features to Firefox Home, but there are technical and logistical restrictions that make it difficult, if not impossible, to build the full Firefox browser for the iPhone.

The challenges for a real full Firefox on iOS are obvious: As far as I know, Apple’s recent loosening of its App Store guidelines still don’t permit third-party browser companies to write the comprehensive rendering/JavaScript engine that would be required for Mozilla to write a browser from scratch. But as a Firefox fan and an iPhone user, I would have cheerfully settled for a “Firefox” that involved Firefox Home’s features plus more interface functionality but used Apple’s WebKit engine for page rendering.

Atomic Web Browser, which seems to be the work of one guy, is really Safari with a new skin; it’s terrific. I don’t see why Mozilla couldn’t evolve Firefox Home into something similar, and similarly useful–or how doing so wouldn’t be a boon to Firefox aficionados.


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