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Once the only third-party apps on smartphones — remember the first iPhone in 2007? — web apps are in the spotlight again. Mozilla is showing how HTML5 apps for Firefox OS can easily run on Android phones.

firefox apps on android
photo: Mozilla

Earlier this week, Mozilla talked about hardware with its expected $25 Firefox OS phone by year-end for India and Indonesia. Now the company behind the open-source Firefox browser is talking about software, showing how its Firefox OS apps can run on Google Android devices.

The apps are all built with HTML5, meaning they aren’t like the native apps you’d find on Android — or on iOS or Windows Phone, for that matter. These are more akin to the third-party web apps available for the original iPhone in 2007. Firefox OS apps have more functionality than those web apps from seven years ago, however: The company has been working on various APIs that let HTML5 apps access phone hardware such the camera, gyroscope and internal storage, for example.

Here’s a look how this all works on Android phones: You can install Firefox OS apps from Mozilla’s online marketplace:

There’s actually quite a bit of affinity between Mozilla’s smartphone platform and Google’s. When Mozilla first started what is today called Firefox OS, it was actually implemented as Boot 2 Gecko on a few select Android handsets. Like Android, it runs on a Linux kernel as well. Ironically, it’s also similar to Google’s Chrome OS as it too runs a web-based environment atop Linux.

Will hordes of Android owners rush to install Firefox OS apps on their Android phone? Not likely, but I don’t see Mozilla’s effort here as way to try and accomplish that. Instead, the company is doing what it has always done: Championing open web standards to show off what they can offer both users and developers.

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Friday, August 29, 2014
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1 Comment

  1. technodelight Friday, June 13, 2014

    Using PhoneGap it is possible to port HTML5 apps, used by Firefox OS, to almost all native platforms including iOS, WindowsPhone, BlackBerry and Android. May be this relaunch will get attention from developers.