Mozilla Explains Why Firefox OS Apps Are Fundamentally Better than Native Mobile Apps

It stems from Mozilla's reliance on the web as a technology and as a platform

By on February 25th, 2013 13:15 GMT

Mozilla's Firefox OS is becoming less and less an experiment and more an actual product. At the Mobile World Conference, Mozilla unveiled a long list of partners which will start selling Firefox OS devices as early as this year.

There were also a couple of new phones on hand, apart from the Geeksphone devices aimed at developers.

The devices showcased are fairly low-end, to be expected since they're aimed at developing markets and are supposed to be cheap, cheaper than most other smartphones.

But the devices matter less than what they're able to run, apps make or break a mobile platform these days, not hardware.

Mozilla highlighted some of the unique selling points of Firefox OS coming from the fact that it's built on the web, in more ways than one.

For developers, the allure is that all Firefox OS apps are built with web technologies, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, though they make use of some Firefox OS-specific APIs, which should make it easy for many to start working on Firefox OS apps or "port" existing web apps.

Much like with Chrome, this also means that the apps themselves don't have to reside on the device, they can "live" on the web itself.

For users, the advantage is that they don't have to install an app to use it and Mozilla is making the most of this with the search functionality built into Firefox OS, a core feature of the platform.

A search will return a mixture web results, direct links to buy listen to music, or even apps, depending on the query.

This makes it possible for the concept of "one time" apps to exist. If you need an app for a specific task at a certain point, you can search for it, use the app and then discard it, much like you would with a website.

This may sound like a downside for developers, but it should result in people trying out more apps than they would if they had to install them first, which should lead to more people eventually installing those apps, if they like them or use them often.

It all sounds nice, but it remains to be seen how well it works in practice and whether developers will be interested. For now, Mozilla has announced that it's gotten quite a few well-known developers on board.

Apps such as AccuWeather, Airbnb, Box, Cut the Rope, Disney Mobile Games, EA games, Facebook, Nokia HERE, MTV Brasil, Pulse News, SoundCloud, SporTV, Terra, Time Out and Twitter are all available for Firefox OS already.

Mozilla was only able to get so many on board because many of the apps are simply repackaged websites or apps. But that's exactly what Mozilla has been touting as the big advantage of Firefox OS.
Firefox OS has the web on its side
   Firefox OS has the web on its side
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