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Mozilla Shows Off Junior, a Simple Browser Built for iPad 137

Posted by timothy
from the other-platforms-would-like-this-too dept.
The Verge reports that Mozilla last week showed off a prototype browser built for the iPad called Junior, based on a simplified interface and gesture-based controls. Junior — remember, not a shipping product — is full-screen, and lacks tabs; most controls are off-screen until called up with an on-screen button, to emphasize whatever page is loaded. See the video demo for an idea of what Junior is like in use.
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Mozilla Shows Off Junior, a Simple Browser Built for iPad

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  • by Sasayaki (1096761) on Monday June 18, 2012 @02:38AM (#40356933)

    More browser competition on the iPhone is fantastic, but it'd be even better if iOS allowed you to change the default browser so that when you tapped a link in an email it would open in that browser. Currently this is not possible; no matter how many browsers you have installed, you tap a link in an app (such as Mail) it opens in Safari. You can't change that, and you can't uninstall Safari, although you can remove it from your quicklaunch tray if you want and put something else there. Doesn't fix the problem though.

    I don't really care much for being able to remove Safari -- it's probably arc-welded to the OS anyway, and if you take it off your quicklaunch and change the default browser you'll never see it -- but without the ability to make Junior/Opera/Long Awaited Chrome For iOS/etc your default browser, choice is a bit of an illusion.

    • by gl4ss (559668) on Monday June 18, 2012 @02:40AM (#40356941) Homepage Journal

      it would be even better if they allowed other engines on the app store.

      • by Sasayaki (1096761) on Monday June 18, 2012 @03:05AM (#40357027)

        This is extremely unlikely. I very much doubt that, ever, Apple will ever allow a non-native toolkit to be installed on the iPhone. Their philosophy is "We own and control everything down to the sandboxed app level and manually approve every app", and the official reason why they do this is because it allows for a uniform user experience without weird bugs caused by strange combinations ("When I use Chrome with Gecko some pages render funny!"). The fact that doing so allows them to make dump trucks full of money out of the defacto walled garden is incidental.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by BasilBrush (643681)

          Remember, Apple came from nowhere in these markets. When they launched the iPhone in 2007, they had an ambition to get just 1% of the phone market. A year later when they launched the App Store, there was no predetermined inevitability that it wold work. Smartphone apps had been around for a decade as a tiny niche. When they launched the iPad, various other companies had tried and failed to create a commercially successful tablet.

          Yes for sure these markets make them dump-trucks full of money. But there is o

          • For sure Apple won't be allowing any other browser engine on iOS. Because there is no benefit to the consumer in doing so.

            There are clear benefits for the end user that are derived from browser competition. You need only look at the improvement in browsers on the desktop to see that.

            Apple won't allow other browser engines on iOS because it introduces competition on the platform and has the potential to diminish Apple's opportunity for profit. The capability to run web-based applications on iOS in a full version of Firefox or Opera or Chrome horrifies Apple because it would mean iOS users could install applications through d

            • There are clear benefits for the end user that are derived from browser competition. You need only look at the improvement in browsers on the desktop to see that.

              I see no evidence that that is true. What we had is 15 years of web-developer hell as they tried to create web-sites that would work across all the browsers. And consumer frustration as they found that some of the web-sites wouldn't work well with their browser. Presumably you think all that was worth it because very slowly browsers got better. Dogma says that competition improves things, but I see no evidence of it here. In fact software that is much used, and has no significant competition also improves o

              • I see no evidence that that is true.

                I see no evidence that it isn't true. Browsers are more capable and faster today than they were even two years. Every browser maker wants their browser to be the fastest and the benchmark is the speed of other browsers. Competition breeds improvement.

                And indeed there are plenty of other browsers on the platform.

                There are no other browsers on iOS. There are only shadows of other browsers. If you can't have your full browser stack on iOS, there are no competiting browsers.

                It's only the rendering engine that's mandated to be one defacto-standard. And that's for user experience reasons.

                *Only* the rendering engine? You mean the most fundamental part of any browser? In any case, i

          • A Mozilla rendering engine would do more harm than good. And for what? The idea of Open Source? Webkit is open source anyway.

            It will bring diversity to the market. This has 2 main advantage.
            The first is security. Monocultures have regularly proven in the past to be easy target for malware and exploits. The case for browser is even worse because they are facing the web. (Unlike some obscure software which only opens local documents and for which you need to trick the users into opening an e-mail attachment)
            And its not as if iGizmos or other phone have always been 100% secure (if only, the exploits to root the phones are a nice exa

            • The first is security. Monocultures have regularly proven in the past to be easy target for malware and exploits.

              There is no such proof. Take for example iOS vs Android. iOS has a single vendor, most people are using the latest version, there are no branched variants, there is a single store. The ultimate monoculture. Result: No malware.

              Android, has multiple vendors, each allowed to customise to fair extent and still be called Android, and to customise completely if they don't care about the Android brand. Lots of branches. Enthusiasts can build their own custom builds. People are on a wide variety of different versio

        • The fact that doing so allows them to make dump trucks full of money out of the defacto walled garden is incidental.

          This is naive. Generating profit and increasing shareholder value are Apple's primary concerns, as they are with any large corporation. It is not incidental. It is an explicit goal and everything Apple does is designed to achieve that goal.

      • it would be even better if they allowed other engines on the app store.

        Then Apple would not have access to your data. I like Opera but I use the Google search tool as well as Safari. A Firefox browser would be a welcome addition though.

        • Google's the one that only wants you for your data (and to show advertising to.) Apple's proposal is more honest. They make their money by selling hardware, software and entertainment media.

      • I have a third party browser called "AtomicWeb" which does some basic ad blocking and tab browsing. I installed it a couple of years ago but I've always suspected it was basically just a slightly different UI with a few more features added on but essentially under the hood it was Safari.

        • by gl4ss (559668)

          I have a third party browser called "AtomicWeb" which does some basic ad blocking and tab browsing. I installed it a couple of years ago but I've always suspected it was basically just a slightly different UI with a few more features added on but essentially under the hood it was Safari.

          yep.

          you see, the reason is that if they did allow programs which could run other programs from the wide 'net, then there would be little point in paying the apple tax at all. so you can't have extended js runtimes.

          • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

            by BasilBrush (643681)

            You seem to have forgotten that Apple's original plan for third-party apps for the iPhone was web-apps. The plan was roundly rejected by everyone.

            As it was when Palm/HP tried it with "WebOS". It killed Palm, and HP had to have a firesale of the devices that no one would buy.

            The threat of web apps to Apple is like the threat of being mauled by a dead sheep.

            Thats not the reason Apple don't allow other browsers. The reason is that one single standard web rendering engine serves the consumer better than having

    • There is always a way to do what you want with UNIX. You can rename Safari to something else, then make a soft link that fools the unconfigurable applications that call Safari to call your browser of choice. This should not be a big deal at all.
    • by MachDelta (704883) on Monday June 18, 2012 @03:33AM (#40357085)

      This post gave me deja-vu. I swear it was only a few years ago we were all sitting around complaining about Microsoft "arc-welding" IE to Windows and limiting customers' ability to change browsers. Only difference this time is that Apple doesn't have quite the same market stranglehold that Microsoft did/does. It does make one wonder though - given the mass shift away from desktop PCs towards more portible devices, and if Apple did come to utterly dominate the laptop/mobile market, how long would it take for Apple to wind up in a courtroom? If ever?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by janek78 (861508)

        "Utterly dominate" as in ~8 % of the mobile phone market? Or ~25 % of the smartphone market? Apple is big, but utter domination looks different, IMO.

        • In case you didn't notice, the GP was referring to people shifting from using PCs to mobile devices, not cell phones.

          Smart phones are only one demographic of the mobile device market. I'm willing to bet tablets were the environment being referred to...

        • Or 80% of the tablet market?

      • by ThePeices (635180) on Monday June 18, 2012 @04:52AM (#40357377)

        Only difference this time is that Apple doesn't have quite the same market stranglehold that Microsoft did/does.

        Apple has a complete and total monopoly on the iOS market.

      • Apple doesn't have quite the same market stranglehold that Microsoft did/does.

        And that's a pretty important difference. Thanks to Android and Samsung, Apple does not have a stranglehold and cannot play kingmaker like MS could on the PC market
        .

      • by ceoyoyo (59147)

        "Only difference this time is that Apple doesn't have quite the same market stranglehold that Microsoft did/does."

        Yeah, that's generally a prerequisite for a charge of abusing your monopoly power.

        "It does make one wonder though - given the mass shift away from desktop PCs towards more portible devices, and if Apple did come to utterly dominate the laptop/mobile market, how long would it take for Apple to wind up in a courtroom?"

        Not very long at all.

    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      Safari is too integrated then, pity. But not surprising.

      Anyway this Junior is a prototype browser, an experimental interface. It must be seen like that: an experiment with new interfaces. This is also the interesting part of it, and that they do it on the iPad may be just a marketing ploy. "New browser for iPad" sounds much better than "new browser for Android tablet". The the average consumer the iPad is hot hot hot, the Android tables are the cheap second choice.

      It is great that these experiments are done

    • by blahbooboo (839709) on Monday June 18, 2012 @08:47AM (#40358169)

      More browser competition on the iPhone is fantastic, but it'd be even better if iOS allowed you to change the default browser so that when you tapped a link in an email it would open in that browser. Currently this is not possible; no matter how many browsers you have installed, you tap a link in an app (such as Mail) it opens in Safari. You can't change that, and you can't uninstall Safari, although you can remove it from your quicklaunch tray if you want and put something else there. Doesn't fix the problem though.

      I don't really care much for being able to remove Safari -- it's probably arc-welded to the OS anyway, and if you take it off your quicklaunch and change the default browser you'll never see it -- but without the ability to make Junior/Opera/Long Awaited Chrome For iOS/etc your default browser, choice is a bit of an illusion.

      Browserchanger in Cydia jailbreak app store allows you to set default web browser.

    • by vic.tz (1000138)

      While I agree it'd be nice to be able to set a default browser, the vast majority of my browsing sessions start with me tapping the Safari icon and visiting one of my bookmarks. Maybe 1 out of 20 sessions start with a link from another app, to put an arbitrary number to it. Simplifying the majority of my ipad browser usage would be a welcome upgrade (i.e. not pointless).

    • by ncc74656 (45571) *

      More browser competition on the iPhone is fantastic, but it'd be even better if iOS allowed you to change the default browser so that when you tapped a link in an email it would open in that browser.

      Browser Changer [modmyi.com] will do that.

    • Android doesn't have this problem.

      Your description is a nutshell summary of what is wrong with closed source software--especially OS's.

      It's not even so much that "you can go in there and change it if you don't like it".  It's more along the lines of who the OS and software makers are thinking of when they design it.  In closed source, the designers are thinking of themselves, primarily, and the users second.  In open source, it's all about the user.
  • by Tablizer (95088) on Monday June 18, 2012 @02:45AM (#40356957) Homepage Journal

    Like the PC Junior name did so well for IBM.

  • Finally! (Score:5, Funny)

    by matunos (1587263) on Monday June 18, 2012 @02:48AM (#40356963)

    A browser that can consume all available memory *and* offer a simple UI!

    • Re:Finally! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 18, 2012 @03:39AM (#40357105)

      A browser that can consume all available memory *and* offer a simple UI!

      The anti-M$ people might downvote this on autopilot, but it is interesting how everything called out as new in the summary about this new Mozilla browser is taken from Metro IE10 in Windows 8: "based on a simplified interface and gesture-based controls. Junior — remember, not a shipping product — is full-screen, and lacks tabs; most controls are off-screen until called up with an on-screen button, to emphasize whatever page is loaded" this is all exactly what Microsoft has been showing with Metro IE10 in Windows 8.

      • by Nutria (679911)

        The difference is that Mozilla only wants to do it on the iPad, but MSFT wants it on the desktop.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          The difference is that Mozilla only wants to do it on the iPad, but MSFT wants it on the desktop.

          On the desktop you have the option of a normal UI (non-Metro) version of IE10. I've tried the Win8 RC and agree that the Metro interface is a big question mark for non-touch "desktop" use on traditional hardware. It becomes mainly an app launcher into the desktop mode.

          But already laptops are outselling desktop PCs by almost 50% according to IDC [geekwithlaptop.com], and this trend is accellerating. And in this new world of new mobility hardware, the combination of Metro and traditional Windows might make more sense. I for one w

          • by CastrTroy (595695)
            I think the reason that laptops are outpacing desktops is because desktops hit the "good enough" stage quite a while ago. If you look at people who aren't power users, they have no reason to upgrade. Most now only buy desktops to replace their current one when it breaks down. Also, most households probably have one desktop computer. Laptops on the other hand are still in the position where they are worth upgrading every 2 years because of lack of ability to upgrade certain components, and because there
      • That sounds a lot like how firefox looks when I press F11, or the android browser. It doesn't take a visionary genius to realise that if you really need to maximise useable screen space you need to conceal controls until needed.
      • by ceoyoyo (59147)

        And it sounds like what Safari already does on the iPad (except for the unnecessary button to bring up the interface). So what?

    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      I'd prefer they were working on the desktop version TBH. What ever happened to one process per tab?

    • Re:Finally! (Score:4, Funny)

      by transporter_ii (986545) on Monday June 18, 2012 @07:41AM (#40357865) Homepage

      And it is already at version 8.02

  • More importantly, will it render quickly? I suspect given Apple's policies it will need to use webkit and therefore not much to gain there.

    My pet hate is trying to scroll complex pages in Safari - don't care about gestures, tabs, hidden GUI elements

  • I don't understand the point of this at all. The idea of the Mozilla Foundation was to be a non-profit to promote web standards. So it makes a lot of sense to work on their own rendering engine Gecko, which can be used to implement new web standards, and a browser that contains it (Firefox).

    This is just a WebKit shell. What purpose does it serve that furthers that goal? Is Mozilla abandoning Gecko in favor of WebKit? They've said several times that would never happen because multiple implementations (engine

    • by ChunderDownunder (709234) on Monday June 18, 2012 @04:21AM (#40357261)

      If it's a concept-UI only, perhaps the feeling is they wanted to share concepts with the fussiest group of guinea pigs - Apple users.

      iOS enjoys market penetration and a fan base picky about software that doesn't gel with the look and feel of the host platform. In this sense, it's a reasonable strategy - if you want a killer browser for mobile, to out-safari safari is a good start.

      If this thing smashes all expectations amongst Apple fans, its conceptual UI could migrate to Mozilla's fledgling boot to gecko project. B2G is a nice idea but it's not ideal to prototype ideas to a mass user base - which currently consists of a maybe a handful of people outside Mozilla who decided to void their Galaxy S2's warranty.

      More than likely it's just the work of a couple of bored Firefox for OS X developers wanting to hone their skills on iOS, and potentially sharing some of the non-gecko, darwinesque infrastructure. The effort might not necessarily be wasted should Apple ever unify iOS and OS X by applying a Metro-like veneer to the Mac!

    • So much stupid, it hurts.
  • Releasing an iPad app with a video that doesnt paly in the iPad is a really bad sign. Did they even tested it?
  • by LongearedBat (1665481) on Monday June 18, 2012 @03:41AM (#40357109)
    Isn't it illegal to show off bare bones juniors on the internet?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Mozilla Shows Off Junior, a Simple Browser

    YES! Finally!

    Built for iPad

    FUCK! Suddenly I lost all interest.

  • If you watch the video (it's about 52mins long), he's surprisingly blunt. It's not a polished presentation, but it is interesting.

  • "Junior — remember, not a shipping product"

    and yet it's already at version 8.

  • Apple letting another browser app onto the platform? Unless I have amnesia I am pretty sure that they are pretty strict on rejecting apps that compete with their own?
    • There are many, many browsers, mail clients, media players, address books etc available on the iOS App Store. So if that was ever a rule at all, it certainly hasn't been one for years.

      I say if, because I think that line of thinking dates from before Apple published it's app review guidelines.

      • app pulled [theverge.com]

        I am pretty sure that Apple has so much stated in the past that if it competes with one of their products they could pull it. I should go look at the guidelines now to check up on it.
        • That wasn't pulled for competing on app functionality. That was pulled for re-implementing a proprietary protocol without permission.

          • yeah i gave you that link in haste - then read later on what they had done. shame shame.

            Apple Guideline 8.3: "Apps which appear confusingly similar to an existing Apple product or advertising theme will be rejected."

            Now lets get down to business. Will Apple pull a competing app? [cultofmac.com]
            • "Apps which appear confusingly similar to an existing Apple product or advertising theme will be rejected."

              That's not a non-compete rule. That's a "don't copy our app designs" rule. I mean you'd have to be pretty brazen to copy an Apple app, then expect Apple to sell it for you on their store. And yet people are that brazen... read on...

              Now lets get down to business. Will Apple pull a competing app?/quote>

              Evi is still there, despite obviously being named and designed to be a Siri clone. So the answer to your question appears to be "no".

              http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/evi/id463296609?mt=8 [apple.com]

              And there are plenty more, such as this one who's icon is very obviously meant to suggest Siri.

              http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/voice-assistant+/id517603342?mt=8 [apple.com]

              The anti-Apple crowd makes much of Apple App Store rules. But the rules are not unreasonable nor their implementation usually capricious, they're pretty reasonable. With about 600,000 apps approved so far there have been remarkably few instances where poor judgement has been made by a reviewer, but they are endlessly recycled as links. Even ones where there wasn't really a problem, but the story has been misrepresented. Like the two links you gave.

  • nice info..thanks for share

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