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Apr 12, 2001
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firefox-150x150.png
Mozilla's Firefox browser may soon make its way to iOS, according to a statement made by Firefox VP Jonathan Nightingale at an internal Mozilla event. Relayed by Firefox release manager Lukas Blakk and shared by TechCrunch, Nightingale reportedly told Mozilla employees "We need to be where our users are so we're going to get Firefox on iOS."

The statement about releasing Firefox for iOS marks a major shift in ideology for Mozilla, as the company has, in the past, repeatedly said that it would not offer a version of Firefox for iOS because of Apple's refusal to allow third-party browsers to use their own web engines. In 2013, then VP of product Jay Sullivan said that Moziila didn't "feel like it could build the browser it wants" on Apple's platform, and that it had "no plans" for an iOS version of Firefox.

One of the major points of contention for Mozilla was Apple's refusal to allow the Firefox browser to carry over its rendering and JavaScript engines to iOS, as Apple imposes strict restrictions on third-party browsers and limits them to the company's own JavaScript engines. Prior to iOS 8, this meant that third-party browsers were slower than Apple's Safari, but with iOS 8, Apple began allowing third-party browsers to take advantage of previously unavailable features like the JavaScript Nitro Engine.

An inability to provide custom web engines along with the lack of an option to set a third-party browser as the default browser makes it difficult for companies like Chrome, Opera, and Firefox to create satisfactory browsing experiences on Apple's platform. Though little is known about Firefox's plans for iOS at the current point in time, it is likely Mozilla will need to continue to work within Apple's limits.

Though Mozilla's Firefox browser for iOS will be subjected to Apple's restrictions, key Firefox features like accounts, customizable home panels, and data syncing will translate to iOS, helping Firefox users achieve a more seamless browsing experience on a range of devices.

Article Link: Mozilla Planning to Release Firefox iOS App in the Future
 

bpeeps

macrumors 68040
May 6, 2011
3,498
3,911
Bloatware, flash crashes, and never ending Firefox updates, yay! Seriously what version of Firefox are they on now? 39?
 

Syk

macrumors 6502a
Jun 20, 2010
926
259
I don't have any problems with Chrome.
I wish Apple would allow you to set default apps, at least for a few applications.
 

AngerDanger

Graphics
Staff member
Dec 9, 2008
5,383
28,456
I'm interested in seeing what over simplified, high-contrast icon FireFox for iOS will have.
MetroUI-Browser-Firefox-Alt-icon.png

Oh, jeez, I'm actually a fan of this one.
 

LunaticSX

macrumors newbie
May 26, 2011
17
2
Mozilla tried doing an iOS app before, called Firefox Home. It wasn't quite a full browser, though, all it did was allow users to access the Firefox browsing history, bookmarks and recent tabs from the Firefox browser on their desktop. It wasn't very popular and Mozilla pulled the plug on it in 2012.

Maybe if Mozilla had just bit the bullet then and made a full version of Firefox for iOS (with multiple tabs, etc., instead of using just a single webview or sending users out to Safari) they'd have been more successful with that.

It's notable though that as of iOS 8 all apps will now be able to use the same fast Nitro JavaScript engine that powers the built-in Safari browser. So an iOS version of Firefox that uses WebKit will no longer suffer in performance compared to Safari.
 

UnsignedKnabble

macrumors newbie
Dec 2, 2014
4
2
Regarding Apple's policy as described in the article, specifically blocking 3rd party innovation, thus putting the OS integrated iOS browser at an advantage over non-Apple browsers. Isn't that precisely why, on the basis of competitor lobbying for anti-trust investigations, Microsoft was forced to break IE off from its Windows OS?
 
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AppleScruff1

macrumors G4
Feb 10, 2011
10,026
2,948
Bloatware, flash crashes, and never ending Firefox updates, yay! Seriously what version of Firefox are they on now? 39?

Can it be worse than Chrome? When I use it on the iPad Air it crashes a few times a day.
 

gordon1234

macrumors 6502a
Jun 23, 2010
574
163
It's notable though that as of iOS 8 all apps will now be able to use the same fast Nitro JavaScript engine that powers the built-in Safari browser. So an iOS version of Firefox that uses WebKit will no longer suffer in performance compared to Safari.

That's technically true, but there's a lot more to it. Getting access to the fast JavaScript and multi-process model requires the use of a new framework: WKWebView. WKWebView is, to put it mildly, half-baked. This Google Chrome bug has a nice list of the problems with it (https://code.google.com/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=423444):

Unfortunately, despite the advantages of WKWebView, it has some significant technical limitations that UIWebView does not, which means we can’t simply drop it in as a replacement. A partial list of regressions relative to UIWebView that we’re currently aware of:
- There is no cookie management API, which means there is no obvious way to clear/manage cookies
- Protocol handlers no longer work, which breaks several very important features
- POST bodies are missing from delegate callbacks, which breaks certain aspects of form handling

We’re still actively investigating WKWebView, looking for possible alternate approaches, and providing feedback to Apple about issues. We certainly hope to use WKWebView in the future, but there’s currently no way of knowing if or when that will be possible.

There are a whole bunch of other significant issues with it as well.

Basically, it would be difficult or impossible to use WKWebView in its current state. Perhaps for an app that isn't a full-fledged browser, but as far as I know, not a single third-party browser has adopted it.
 

Watabou

macrumors 68040
Feb 10, 2008
3,424
753
United States
Well I'm interested. there are a few firefox only plugins (pentadactyl for one) that I can't give up so it would be cool if they finally bring over the synced data to Firefox on iOS and not have to switch to Safari.

Bloatware, flash crashes, and never ending Firefox updates, yay! Seriously what version of Firefox are they on now? 39?

How is this any different from Chrome? In fact, the latest stable version of Chrome, in my experience is a lot buggier than Firefox currently Nightly version is. (I can't even remember the last time Nightly crashed on me). And bloated? Please. Firefox uses the LEAST amount of memory out of all the browsers.

And why the **** does it matter what version number Firefox is on, seriously, this old argument keeps popping up ever since Firefox moved to fast release cycle. People tend to forget Chrome started it first.
 
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