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First Firefox Mobile OS Phones Announced 116

Posted by samzenpus
from the in-the-beginning dept.
judgecorp writes "The first devices running Firefox Mobile OS, originally known as Boot to Gecko, have been announced. TCL and ZTE are making the phones, which will show up on Brazil's Telefonica Vivo network. Other operators are planning to give the phones a try. From their blog: 'Device manufacturers TCL Communication Technology (under the Alcatel One Touch brand) and ZTE today announced their intentions to manufacture the first devices to feature the new Firefox OS, using Snapdragon processors from Qualcomm Incorporated, the leader in smartphone platforms. The first Firefox OS powered devices are expected to launch commercially in Brazil in early 2013 through Telefónica’s commercial brand, Vivo.'"
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First Firefox Mobile OS Phones Announced

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  • oh great (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 02, 2012 @01:15PM (#40518499)

    now you need to upgrade your phone every six weeks instead of two years...

    lovely.

    • Re:oh great (Score:5, Funny)

      by squiggleslash (241428) on Monday July 02, 2012 @02:16PM (#40519261) Homepage Journal

      Yeah, but on the other hand while you may be stuck with your iPhone 4, I'll be using my fPhone 23. Uh, wait, hold on, sorry fPhone 24.

      Crap, need to reboot the phone, I've used up all its memory again...

      • by PRMan (959735)
        Where's my mod points? This is funny.
    • Re:oh great (Score:5, Informative)

      by chrb (1083577) on Monday July 02, 2012 @02:36PM (#40519477)

      You jest, but one of the interesting things about Boot 2 Gecko is that all the apps are just localled cached web apps, which means that they get "updated" seamlessly without having to interact with an app store or package manager. You get all of the updating advantages of a web app like Google Docs or Gmail, in that installation and upgrading is completely invisible to the user. Even the included apps (the launcher, the dialler, photo viewer, web browser, etc.), which would be native on any other platform, are all just web apps loaded from a particular URL - you can access the same URL using Firefox on a desktop PC, or from an Android phone running Firefox Mobile, and those apps will run. It's the cross platform solution that eliminates the need for native code (think Phone Gap [phonegap.com]).

      Mozilla is aiming to produce a platform that will make apps just an extension of the web. And to standardize everything that they need to do, so that other platforms can implement their APIs. Is it possible for everything? Perhaps not. Does it feel like we are throwing away decades of work on native code? Perhaps, but the web stack of HTML and Javascript is the only cross-platform, globally accepted solution we have. Google tried to add native code to Chrome [google.com] - it's impressive, it works, but nobody's using it. We had Java applets on the web, but those are effectively dead now. There are projects now that can compile from native code to Javascript [github.com] - see this amazing demo of Sauerbraten in Javascript running with accelerated WebGL [syntensity.com]. It's not difficult to imagine a world where Javascript is basically the common bytecode, and with bridges to native APIs it becomes possible to access all hardware, do anything, from a web app that is running on any platform, be it iOS, Windows, Android, Linux, etc.

      As I wrote in another comment: the current situation with apps is a bit of a throwback - can you imagine if viewing a web site required you to install it through an app store? And for an author, updating their web site required them to push their site to Dell, who would then approve it and push it out to people with Dell computers? But you need a different web site for people with Asus computers, and you have to push your Asus-build site to them for approval and redistribution? It's crazy, if that were the situation with the web it would've never taken off. Making apps more like the web, or expanding the web to consume apps, whichever way you look at it, is a good thing.

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        locally cached? well, fuck if that's what locally "cached" is then all the apps on my phone are locally cached now. just because it's js doesn't mean that it's loading the stuff from network on boot.

        essentially they're doing a free version of what some vendors have been trying to push for years.

        HOWEVER.. it remains to be seen if their native bridge api's are good and how good their acceleration of the renderer is(that is, if it's possible to do an angry birds clone or not).

        this is what nokia was pushing for

        • The point is that for app upgrades, instead of going to an app store to get them, you go right to the website and the HTML 5 local storage gets updated by the site.

          I suspect if this works at all, it will be because of the mobile phone hardware available in 2013 - multi-core processors, 2 GB of RAM, etc... might allow a completely HTML5 interface to perform well enough to satisfy users.

          The HTML5 APIs that Mozilla is submitting to W3C include VOIP, accelerometer, GPS, taking pictures, taking video, etc
          • I suspect if this works at all, it will be because of the mobile phone hardware available in 2013 - multi-core processors, 2 GB of RAM, etc... might allow a completely HTML5 interface to perform well enough to satisfy users.

            Their partners are ZTE and Alcatel. ZTE's best offer so far is the Blade, powered by a 600MHz ARMv6 (very capable phone, actually, but not exactly zippy), and Alcatel was far behind, last I checked. I think going for the higher end of the spectrum is out of the question, at least in this first push.

            • Thanks for the information. Since they're doing a lot of their development work on the Samsung Galaxy S2, I had presumed they expected equivalent or better hardware for their first production device. I have an LG Optimus V with a 600 MHz ARM processor and the Android App Store (/Google Play) won't even offer Firefox mobile for it, so I presume the performance is awful. I have no idea how much of that problem is the interplay between Android, Linux, and Firefox and would be improved if Android was remove
              • The absence of Firefox for your device isn't performance related. You can find a few unofficial builds of the source that seem to run fine (and there's no reason why it shouldn't - Opera Mobile runs just fine on a 600MHz ARMv6). Here's the relevant bugzilla thread: https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=723946 [mozilla.org]

                By the way, the Optimus V is a variant of the Optimus One, is it not? As a fellow Optimus owner, I strongly suggest you to install Cyanogenmod if you haven't done it already. Our phones are shock

        • by Lennie (16154)

          I would like to mention a few things:
          - A large part of apps on smartphones are already build with things like PhoneGap. So it isn't a big change from what people use now.

          - You don't need to create VoIP encoder, there is already a HTML5 standard for that: WebRTC: http://arstechnica.com/business/2012/04/html5-roundup-mozilla-demos-standards-based-video-chat-in-firefox/ [arstechnica.com]

      • It's not difficult to imagine a world where Javascript is basically the common bytecode, and with bridges to native APIs it becomes possible to access all hardware, do anything, from a web app that is running on any platform, be it iOS, Windows, Android, Linux, etc.

        Or you could download xPud and give it a try.

        The user interface, Plate, is a combination of Mozilla Gecko Runtime and desktop integration with the underlying Linux stack. That makes it very fast, quick to boot, small (under 35MB), and binary compatible with normal Linux apps.

        It runs from USB, so is easy to experiment with.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126)

        One thing I love about Android is being able to back up apps and keep old versions. Back when Shazam changed from unlimited tagging to something ridiculous like five a month I just downgraded to the last good version.

      • Love the iphone but I have become quite paranoid in updating apps. Even the most trusted apps that I never had a problem with a new version, I still check the reviews to make sure it's a good idea. I've had too many either break or move to some annoying freemium version that causes me to delete it...

        The last thing I want is to lose control of updating apps. Bad, bad idea.

  • by rodrigoandrade (713371) on Monday July 02, 2012 @01:18PM (#40518531)

    Serious question.

    Besides the heavyweight iOS and Android, there are Bada, Symbian, Tizen, Windows Mobile/Phone, RIM...

    Ah crap, full list here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_operating_system [wikipedia.org]

    Do we really need another OS with a .0001 market share?

    • by h4rr4r (612664) on Monday July 02, 2012 @01:20PM (#40518571)

      Yes, any other stupid questions?

      More competition is better, without it you get the stagnation that desktops have been since the 90s.

      • If that competition isn't even a blip in Apple's or Google's radar, is it still competition?

        • by wiedzmin (1269816) on Monday July 02, 2012 @01:37PM (#40518767)
          At some point iPhone wasn't even a blip on the RIM's radar...
          • by Amouth (879122) on Monday July 02, 2012 @01:54PM (#40518993)

            that's only because RIM's radar was broken - everyone elses radar saw it coming before Apple even confirmed it's existence.

        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          Yes, in the same way the Linux server was not a blip on Commercial UNIX in generals radar at one point.

        • by hairyfeet (841228)
          To the Moz devs all that matters is they ape Google, just as they've done with FF aping Chrome. I mean what's next guys, Mozvision eyewear? This is as sad as Canonical putting out Ubuntu Netbook edition long after that ship had done sailed, anybody trying to get into mobile OSes now is frankly batshit insane.
          • by Belial6 (794905)
            Almost as crazy as trying to get into the browser market when IE owned 98% of the market share.
            • by hairyfeet (841228)

              Big difference there friend, MSFT had all but abandoned IE (even going so far as disbanding the IE dev team) and so was simply coasting on an increasingly creaky POS browser that wasn't compliant with jack shit to begin with and which had become a haven for malware.

              Compare that to the mobile OS market where you have Google spending a billion a year on development, who knows how much Apple and MSFT are spending, and you are trying to get in when both iOS and Android are both HEAVILY supported by app developm

              • I support Mozilla because I do not want tablet makers deciding what browser I run and having webkit take over the market. The only reason IE 9/10 are somewhat decent browsers is because MS got its ass whopped on a silver platter by both Mozilla and Google.

                Windows RT will be IE trident only [zdnet.com] with FF and Chrome negligated to the desktop mode only on x86. If MS gets rid of the desktop in Windows 9 you are screwed and it is no more Comodo Dragon for you!

                Apple is evil too and is doing the same with Safari as Chro

                • by hairyfeet (841228)

                  Tell me this Billy, be honest now as its off the front page so you won't have to worry about modbombing (I still don't see how you took a karma hit, but then again I avoid the Linux articles because it turns into FOSSie circle jerks so maybe that's it) now do you HONESTLY believe that this thing has a snowball's chance in hell? I mean do you seriously believe devs are gonna give up the mature and easy to use Android and iOS dev kits for some half assed thing Moz puts together?

                  Oh and if your doom scenario co

        • by Patch86 (1465427)

          Mozilla obviously hope that one day it'll be more than a blip.

          iOS was a blip on RIM's radar once. Android was a blip on Apple's radar after that.

          If Mozilla's business model is more appealing to carriers or device makers than Android or iOS, they might do well. The fact that they've got some big names like Alcatel, Deutsche Telecom and Sprint interested is vaguely promising for them, so we'll see how it pans out.

      • Yeah, and that was really because of a lack of desktop OSes, right?
        • by h4rr4r (612664) on Monday July 02, 2012 @02:15PM (#40519255)

          Yes, it was. MS Monopolized the market, then sucked out all the profit. This meant that hardware vendors did not have the money to take risks.

          • Personally, I think it has much more to do with (in my experience) people somehow picking mediocre.
            • by tsa (15680)

              They picked mediocre because nearly every computer out there was sold together with a MS system running on it and people were too ignorant or too lazy to change that. Not much has changed since then.
              BTW, I think 'mediocre' is too big a compliment for Win95.

      • You could have answered without calling it a stupid question. But I agree with the rest.
    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      Is this really an OS? I thought it was just the Firefox browser being used directly to run apps.

    • The more the better. It means people will actually have to use standards to target the most people and competition is always a good thing. Apple is getting a bit lazy and Android is still a POS so the competition is needed.
    • by gman003 (1693318)

      Yes, because that 0.0001% could grow into 10%. That means it drives the 40% vendors to innovate (or at least, to copy *their* innovative ideas).

      Or because that 0.0001% could have needs that just are not met by another OS. There's probably some people who would like a smartphone with a full set of IPA characters on a hardware keyboard, or a smartphone with 5.1 TOSLINK audio outputs, or maybe one that runs on an Itanium processor. Would I (or any reasonable person, really) want those? No. But someone probably

      • by exomondo (1725132)

        Yes, because that 0.0001% could grow into 10%.

        But that's highly unlikely unless it provides something, some compelling reason to switch. It needs something so good that it outweighs the benefits of choosing a platform with a broad, mature and well-established ecosystem.
        We see the same thing with Windows Phone, by most accounts it's actually a very good OS compared to the market leaders but the difficult question to answer is: Why would you choose it instead of iOS or Android? Or more accurately why would 10% of people do so.

        When you enter an establish

    • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Monday July 02, 2012 @01:37PM (#40518771)

      Not an OS. Just the Firefox browser running like an OS. "Is this going to be yet another platform for developers to code for?
      "No..... We don't want this work to lead to applications that only run atop one platform, or only run in Firefox. That's an important difference between what we're doing and proprietary mobile stacks today: we don't seek a competitive advantage for Mozilla, we seek a competitive advantage for the Web." Read more here: http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/b2g/faq/ [mozilla.org]

      • The fact that IE will be the only browser in Windows RT is a bad thing and we finally broke free of IE 6 just 3 or 4 years ago. I remember just 4 years ago some sites I had to use IE still. I do not want those days again.

        I love IE 9/10 and think they are great standards compliant browsers. But I do not agree on limiting choice no more than Apple owning 90% of the market with Safari would be just as evil and sue everyone out of existence. Only competition ensures they wont do something stupid as the expense

        • by Lennie (16154)

          I still consider Microsoft up to their tricks for example.

          There won't be a IE10 for Windows 7 either.

          • There will be one. My guess is MS will break their new promised annual IE update and include it with Windows 7 SP 2. They are more focused on getting it on Windows 8 with its WDM 1.2 graphics driver first, and then backporting it to WDM 1.1 since it heavily uses hardware acceleration unlike its past versions.

            Still IE 10 can be awesome for now, just like IE 4 and 5 were good browsers at the time and then will turn into shit with its own proprietary extensions like we witnessed in IE 6.

            We need more browsers a

    • by ArhcAngel (247594) on Monday July 02, 2012 @01:38PM (#40518787)
      Funny...This comic [xkcd.com] seems to be getting a lot of use lately.
      • by chrb (1083577)

        Funny...This comic [xkcd.com] seems to be getting a lot of use lately.

        Yes, but the great thing about Mozilla's standards is that they are open source, and they want web browsers to implement them. At the moment we have multiple standards for apps - Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Symbian, WebOS, Bada. I'm pretty sure none of those (apart from perhaps Android) are actually open source and freely re-implementable by everyone else.

        Remember when actually did have multiple protocols and document standard (MSN Classic, AOL, Compuserve etc.) competing to be the network that people wo

        • I know it's a dead platform, fallen off its perch, gone to join the choir immortal, insert Monty Python references ad nauseam - but webOS is being open sourced right now. And I'm trying to evaluate Enyo as a candidate for a cross platform front end for one of our applications. It isn't dead, it's resting.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pmathew (1597155)
      If they play their cards right it wont be a .0001% . We need an OS out of the clutches of microsoft, google and apple,from somebody we trust more with our personal data . So far Firefox is the Mr. Clean and that is a brand image it has worldwide . Also using a standard compliant language (html) for development they will attract a lot of developers as learning curve may be small ( I hope so) . RIM recognized the need for momentum with apps when they started designing QNX based blackberry OS but they chose t
    • No... The market will eventually weed it down to 2 or 3 major players, iOS, Android, and ???? What's prompting the entrance of additional contenders are the strategic miss-steps of phone stalwarts Nokia and RIM. In addition, the cell phone market still has high margins, unlike the rest of the tech market. I'm surprised that Dell and/or HP hasn't announced their own phone lineup.

      Personally, I think that Nokia will make a comeback with Win8 and it will take the 3rd position and RIM will likely evolve to p

    • Yes!

      Windows RT will only use Trident and IE [zdnet.com], and if MS decides to go Metro only in Windows 9 you can kiss Firefox goodbye.

      iOS locks out javascript and competing browsers are just webkit Safari based with different UI skins. Andriod is it the same with webkit and only Chrome gets V8. Where does that leave Gecko or anyone else in the new browser wars?

      What if IE takes 80% of the market again in 10 years? What is there to stop them from making IE 6 2.0? What is to stop Apple from making their own extensions to

    • by Lennie (16154)

      Maybe, yes.

      Because HTML5-based applications (sometimes using frameworks like PhoneGap) can be fairly ported to all these platforms. The more code you can share for your applications on all these platforms, the faster you can develop, right ?

      Maybe you can even share code with your website too.

      So if people use HTML5 already. Why not build all applications, including the system applications with HTML5 so you'll get an API for all the native code so developers of HTML5-based appications are not second class cit

  • Commitment? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Monday July 02, 2012 @01:19PM (#40518547) Homepage Journal

    I didn't learn from TFAs what Mozilla's commitment is to this. It seems like a good idea, but Mozilla has such a long history of abandoning [lawrencemandel.com] really good ideas [mozilla.org] when they turn out not to be easy.

    • by jlebar (1904578)

      Mozilla has such a long history of abandoning [lawrencemandel.com] really good ideas [mozilla.org] when they turn out not to be easy.

      [Insert cliche about how if you're going to climb a mountain, you'd better be willing to turn around and run if you encounter a pack of hungry polar bears.]

      While you certainly have a point, I think Mozilla gets treated unfairly in this kind of thing. You'll never hear about Apple's failed projects; they might have a much worse history than we do with this sort of thing, for a

      • While you certainly have a point, I think Mozilla gets treated unfairly in this kind of thing. You'll never hear about Apple's failed projects; they might have a much worse history than we do with this sort of thing, for all either of us knows.

        True. And one shouldn't mock failure - that's anti-productive. But does Apple have fundamentally important projects that it abandons because they're too hard? Sure, we know about some of their canceled projects (especially the ones canceled for Jobs' ego, e.g. Aste

        • by jlebar (1904578)

          So, here we have Mozilla saying, "porting Firefox to a process (nee thread) model is too hard, but we're going to build an operating system!"

          FWIW, most apps in b2g^WFirefox OS will run in separate processes. The difficulty is specifically in porting Firefox to a multi-process architecture; Gecko is pretty capable of working multi-process.

          Yet, Chrome continues to grow in market share, for the same reasons as outlined at the start of Electrolysis. In my opinion, the narrative changed but the conditions on th

        • by Lennie (16154)

          The problems with making Firefox multi process is they don't want to break 99% of all the addons.

          And there is an advantage to not doing multi-process, which is less memory usage. Just look at memory usage benchmarks, it is always Opera, Firefox and Safari that when those. Not Chrome.

        • Do you have any evidence that Asteroid & ZFS were cancelled for Jobs' ego?

          • Do you have any evidence that Asteroid & ZFS were cancelled for Jobs' ego?

            Yeah, we do. Both were 'big announcements' that got leaked and were immediately cancelled. In the case of ZFS, just a day before the announcement, to spite Jonathan Schwartz for not keeping the secret. That's not sound business practice.

            • Perhaps, it is not a sound business practice, but it appears to be an Apple policy. Do you have any proof that Jobs' ego had a role in this?

      • by Lennie (16154)

        Actually Apple does have a worse history in a sense. When Steve was still at the top, he would let them almost completely design and build whole new competing products by different teams and then choose or abandon all of them.

      • by exomondo (1725132)

        You'll never hear about Apple's failed projects;

        Ping? G4 Cube? Pippin? eMate?

  • By Mozilla... (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by BenJeremy (181303)

    ...so it will only run a single core, single thread, and use up memory exponentially every minute it is on, requiring a complete reboot after three calls, right?

    • ...so it will only run a single core, single thread, and use up memory exponentially every minute it is on, requiring a complete reboot after three calls, right?

      The memory problems were fixed in FF 8 & 9.

      I know you were joking but I found FF 13.01 a drastic improvement over FF 5 which was the last one I used before ditching it last year! I guess not using it for so long the improvement was dramatic for me. I still wont switch to it full time from IE 9 and Chrome yet as Mozilla is still working out the wrinkles and bugs from its 6 week release, such as system restore messing up Mozilla Update and the new plugin api which ensures plugins do not break when updatin

  • Given their affinity for Firefox updates, I'm sure everyone can assume their entire data plan will be burned up just on updates if they get one of these phones.
    • The phone company won't co-operate. Any bugs found in Mozilla will remain in the phone forever, with your only solution being to buy a new phone that is exactly the same as your old one except it has an updated operating system.
  • by thetoadwarrior (1268702) on Monday July 02, 2012 @01:39PM (#40518793) Homepage
    My experience with Android has been less than stellar to put it kindly and I don't quite feel up to paying for an iphone so this will definitely be something I look at. Plus it would be nice to support someone who isn't interested in locking me in or stealing all my data to sell me stuff.
    • by PRMan (959735)
      What's less than stellar about Android? I've had good success on my phone and tablet, and so have my family. In fact, the device that is the worst to use and gets the most complaints is my daughter's iPod with iOS.
      • I've had to deal with the whole corrupt account cookie bug that leaves buttons not working (which in itself seems odd) and no error so I'm first thinking my phone is busted, a few updates left maps working weirdly, quite frankly I find it annoying the market shows me things that just won't work on my phone but nothing implies my phone's not up to the job and when I try to download it gives an error that implies it's a connection issue rather than it's not going to give it to me because I shouldn't have it.
  • WebOS achilles heel? (Score:4, Informative)

    by vivek7006 (585218) on Monday July 02, 2012 @01:43PM (#40518837) Homepage

    The last OS based on HTML (WebKit to be more specific) was WebOS, and was deemed slow because of that http://nyti.ms/KOMpBx [nyti.ms]. Wouldnt a HTML5 based OS face the same hurdles?

    • by jlebar (1904578)

      I think part of the problem facing WebOS was that they lacked the WebKit expertise necessary to optimize their platform. We at Mozilla do not have the equivalent problem.

  • by kaizendojo (956951) on Monday July 02, 2012 @01:49PM (#40518931)
    Apple, Samsung, Oracle.... LOL
  • by cwgmpls (853876) on Monday July 02, 2012 @02:33PM (#40519437) Journal
    Android phones are already more than affordable. It is the data plan costs that make smartphone ownership out-of-reach for many people. This phone won't solve that problem, and will probably make it worse as they will primarily be used as give-aways to entice people into an over-priced 2-year data contracts. What problem does this new OS solve?
    • give-aways to entice people into an over-priced 2-year data contracts

      It solves the problem of where carriers are required (due to their pockets) to 2x profits every year but claim huge net losses. It solves the problem of their networks being so utterly congested that they have to move to tiered data to make you use less data, so that they can push more VCast streaming video, crappy carrier branded GPS navigation (when you've got the already really good and free Google one), and now where the entire UI and

    • The problem it solves are OS maker lockins. [zdnet.com]

      Got that nice Windows RT device from work? oops you have to use IE no other browser is supported. How about the shiny IPAD? Oops Safari only as Chrome is just a skin of Safari with a very crippled javascript engine, no dart support, other Apple lockins etc.

      Firefox will be dead by the time WIndows 9 is out if MS kills the desktop as FF has to use the trident IE rendering engine in METRO mode.

    • I know at least one person who uses android on wifi only... I've done it with a tablet too. Data isn't everything.
  • I can't imagine how unruly the about:config will be for a whole OS
  • Considering the craptastic experience of Firefox on Android I have little faith that an entire phone OS built by the same crew will come out of the gate in a usable state.
  • Just what we need, more market fragmentation! It's not like iOS, Android, BlackBerry OS / QNX, Bada, Windows Phone, and the plethora of Java-powered phones out there is enough.

    Let's not forget the main reason why WebOS failed - Lack of platform support. Very few apps available, with little developer interest because they're already splitting their focus primarily between iOS and Android, which is already a huge drain. By comparison, even BB OS and Windows Phone have tiny developer followings and very small

  • I think, at this point, it has been shown that most developers prefer not to write apps in HTML5 and would instead rather write native. The whole idea of an operating system that runs HTML5 applications sounded great a few years ago, but "app stores" clearly have won the battle in every platform they exist. Same reason why ChromeOS also never catched on.
  • Never saw a webOS and an android clone before.

    For fuck sake someone invent something new.

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