Unable to offer a mobile version of Firefox on the iPhone, Mozilla has managed to get Apple to accept an app that makes Firefox data available.

Thomas Claburn, Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

July 16, 2010

2 Min Read

Mozilla on Thursday said that its iPhone app, Firefox Home, had been accepted by Apple for inclusion in the company's iTunes App Store.

"We are happy to announce that the wait is over," declares Mozilla's Stuart Parmenter in a blog post.

Whether Firefox users are happy with Firefox Home remains to be seen. What Firefox users repeatedly ask for is a version of Firefox for the iPhone.

But Mozilla says that's not possible at the moment.

"We do not have plans to ship the Firefox browser for the iPhone," the company explains in the Firefox Home FAQs. "Due to constraints with the OS environment and distribution, we cannot provide users Firefox for the iPhone."

So Firefox Home is a compromise, though Mozilla's announcement makes it sound like a victory.

Firefox Home, through one-way synchronization, allows iPhone users to access data from Firefox installations on one or more computers, specifically their browser history, bookmarks and open browser tabs.

It's a useful tool certainly, if you rely on your browser history and bookmarks more than search. And password protection is handy since phones do get lost and stolen.

Firefox Home is likely to become more useful once Mozilla fixes the bug that prevents Firefox Home from syncing with private servers.

But just as Internet Explorer with Google Chrome Frame installed is more Google than Microsoft, Firefox Home is Apple at its core. It relies on the mobile version of Apple's Safari browser under the hood, displaying Web links either in an iOS WebView window internally or externally in Safari.

That's not necessarily a bad thing.

Apple's mobile Safari browser is the best browser available on the iPhone.

That may have something to do with the fact that it's the only browser available on the iPhone. Opera Mini is a proxy browser that handles processing on the server-side and other third-party browsers on the iPhone are just variations on the WebKit engine that powers Safari.

Even so, Safari is not Firefox. And Firefox Home, for all its utility, isn't Firefox either.

About the Author(s)

Thomas Claburn

Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful master's degree in film production. He wrote the original treatment for 3DO's Killing Time, a short story that appeared in On Spec, and the screenplay for an independent film called The Hanged Man, which he would later direct. He's the author of a science fiction novel, Reflecting Fires, and a sadly neglected blog, Lot 49. His iPhone game, Blocfall, is available through the iTunes App Store. His wife is a talented jazz singer; he does not sing, which is for the best.

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