June 18, 2012
Mozilla Is Finally Developing An iPad Browser
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com
Apple is not a completely arrogant company. Sure, they would rather we classify them as “confident” rather than arrogant, but the point remains: They feel they are right more often than they are wrong.And there´s nothing wrong with that, really. Take, for instance, their nearly air-tight production system. Everything from concept to design to software is done in house because they believe they can do it best. Then, when it comes time to build the thing, they call for help from Foxconn and others because, while it may pain them to say it, these manufacturers are better equipped to roll millions of devices out of their doors.
Therefore, it´s entirely likely Apple feels they´ve nailed the whole “mobile browser” thing. They may feel some companies are doing better in some regards, and if Apple wants to improve their browser to that end, they´ll make sure they have it right before they roll it out.
This doesn´t mean that everyone feels Safari has got it right, or that they don´t have a pretty good idea on how mobile web browsers should work themselves.
Enter Mozilla´s “Junior,” a simple web browser for iPad. According to the Mozilla team, Junior is going to make “browsing more fun” with its ergonomic design and “magazine feel” appearance.
Junior is also Mozilla´s first foray into the world of iOS, a surprising fact considering their popular Firefox browser is currently the second most popular browser in the world with over 28% of the global market. Calling Safari on the iPad “a pretty miserable experience,” Firefox product designer Alex Limi introduced Junior in a video on Mozilla´s website.
"We wanted to make something entirely new. We wanted to look into how we could reinvent the browser for a new form factor.”
Limi did, in the name of fairness, say Safari was the best browser out there, no matter how “sucky” it is.
The entire experience is full screen, meaning there are no tabs or toolbars in Junior. Immediately noticeable are two buttons on either side of the screen: A “back” button on the left and a “plus” button on the right. Thus, their claims of an ergonomic design. When held in portrait mode, these two buttons should lie just beneath the thumbs, further adding to the magazine feel of the browser. The back button, of course, takes you back one page. The plus button brings up many familiar actions, such as recents and search. This is also where you´ll be able to type in your URLs and store a list of your favorite sites. These two buttons can also be expanded to reveal 6 operations, though Mozilla has yet to finalize what these options will be.
Based purely on the video, the entire UI looks very clean, very organized and very simple.
Does your iPad get passed around between family members at your house? The team at Mozilla has addressed this common complaint by adding multi-user support, allowing different accounts to store different preferences such as favorite sites. Swiping left in the browser brings up the user login page. Mozilla also says they will put other options on this page, such as an option for private browsing. Users will also have the option to lock their account with a password, you know, just in case.
At this point, “Junior” is more of an idea than an actual, shippable product. Though promising, the team at Mozilla has some decisions to make before they finalize the app and ship it off to Cupertino for approval. For now, it´s very interesting to see how other teams envision how a mobile browser should work. When Junior launches, he will likely be a welcome addition for millions of Firefox fans.