TechWeekEurope has somehow managed to snag a batch of screenshots -- 25 images in fact -- showing Mozilla's mobile OS formerly known as Boot to Gecko. Devices based on the open web-friendly Firefox OS aren't expected to ship until next year, but the OS itself seems to be shaping up rather nicely, if not looking a bit iOS and Android-like to boot.
In fact, it looks great.
The big deal here is that while the OS resembles Android and even iOS, and offers typical functions like calling, texting, calendar and contacts, the entire Linux-based system is powered by Mozilla's Gecko, the Firefox web browser engine. This platform supports applications written entirely in HTML5, the same web-based development language that powers applications that run within modern web browsers. Unlike Android and iOS, all Firefox OS-based phone features and apps will be based on the HTML5 language.
Earlier this month, Mozilla released desktop-friendly versions of Firefox OS so that developers and curious consumers can play and examine. As TechCrunch points out, it's not as simple as installing a program on the computer and giving the software a quick whirl. One of the may caveats getting Firefox OS up and running includes being familiar with GetHub, and knowing how to use a command line. The builds also can't be loaded onto smartphones and tablets.
In addition to the batch of screenshots, TechWeekEurope also has an interview with Mozilla Europe president Tristan Nitot who talks about the upcoming mobile OS. He said initially Firefox OS smartphones will be powered by off-the-shelf Qualcomm Snapdragon ARM processors. And while it's possible to adapt the OS to fit tablet-sized displays, Mozilla wants to focus on the smartphone sector because "it will sell more of these devices, more quickly than computers."
Does the market really need another mobile OS? Of course it does, he said. "It takes us back to the first purpose of the Mozilla Foundation," he said. "The market is now controlled by Apple, whose iOS is completely closed, and Google, whose Android… is less and less open. Unlike the challengers that you cited, our ambition is not to impose yet another closed system, but rather to introduce more openness, and finally bring the whole web to mobiles."
He goes on to report that 75-percent of applications are already designed in HTML5 anyway, with an overlay to fit smartphones from Apple or Google. This is why the OS should be extremely popular with developers: because that platform-specific "overlay" will be non-existent.
"No need to learn the development languages of Apple or Google," he added. "It’s enough to adapt a site to the dimensions of a smartphone and then eventually take advantage of hardware features such as GPS, touchscreen and accelerometer, that go with these screens."