Firefox OS has been officially out for a few weeks now and, already, Mozilla is making big improvements. It announced that Firefox OS-powered phones would be launching in more countries and also released the first major update to the operating system.The update brings some significant performance improvements and quite a lot of new features, Mozilla boasts, but that's to be expected this early in the game. It is encouraging though to see Mozilla maintain a steady pace.
While Firefox OS may have been deemed ready for an official launch, there's still plenty to do. Judging just by the features added in Firefox OS 1.1, it's clear that there's a lot of work to do before the operating system can be considered complete as a phone OS.
But that will hardly be enough. Not only does Firefox OS have to be a good operating system on its own, it also has to compete with the likes of iOS, Android, and Windows Phone, all of which have seen years of improvements already.
Mozilla has done plenty of things right. It's positioning Firefox OS as a cheap alternative for first-time smartphone users who may not notice the missing features or the rough edges so much.
Firefox OS is also differentiating itself by making it extremely easy to use any app available for it without having to install anything. This ease of use is at the core of the experience and it's something no other mobile OS can replicate at this point.
That said, if this turns out to be a great idea, it will get copied fast. Already, Google is laying the foundation for a web-based app platform for Android, via Chrome. In the latest beta release, users can create shortcuts to their favorite sites or web apps on the homescreen. Websites can also instruct Chrome to launch in a full-screen UI-less instance.
This doesn't seem like much, but, in essence, it's the same approach Mozilla is taking with Firefox OS. With apps becoming a big part of the Chrome experience on the desktop, it's hard to imagine that Google isn't thinking about the mobile landscape as well, even if it's got a flourishing app store for Android already.