Mozilla Will Not Release an iOS Version of Firefox Due to Apple's Limitations on Third-Party Browsers

Discussion in 'iOS Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, Mar 10, 2013.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    reports that during a talk at SXSW, Jay Sullivan, Mozilla's vice president of product, said that the company has no plans to release an iOS version of Firefox because of technological limitations imposed by Apple.
    Mozilla's stance on a Firefox browser for the iPhone is not new. In 2010, the company announced that it did not plan to create a standalone browser for the iPhone, citing the same technical and logistical restrictions that would prevent the company from creating an acceptable mobile experience via iOS.

    Apple's Safari uses the speedy Nitro JavaScript engine exclusively, while restricting third-party browsers to UIWebView, which gives Safari a significant performance boost over other browsers.

    Mozilla did create an iOS application called Firefox Home, which allowed Firefox users to sync Firefox history and bookmarks with a Webkit-powered web viewer.

    The company also experimented with a stripped down version of Firefox called "Junior," which was designed to simplify the iOS browsing experience. That project has yet to see a public release, and Mozilla ended up removing Firefox Home from the App Store in September.

    Other major players continue to compete with Safari, despite the imposed limitations. Opera has long had the Opera Mini browser in the App Store, and Google released a Chrome app for iOS last summer.

    Article Link: Mozilla Will Not Release an iOS Version of Firefox Due to Apple's Limitations on Third-Party Browsers
  2. bb426 macrumors 6502


    Jun 7, 2011
    That didn't stop Google from releasing Chrome.

    Innovation, people. Don't let a limitation stop you from working with all the resources you have.
  3. satchow macrumors 6502

    Jul 11, 2011
    Not too concerned that Mozilla won't release a browser known for memory leaks on iOS.
  4. TheGreenBastard macrumors 6502


    Nov 1, 2012

    Nintendo underpowers their consoles so that developers will find new and creative ways to utilize their hardware, and I'm sure Apple does the same, be it software or hardware limitations.
  5. camnchar macrumors 6502


    Jan 26, 2006
    SLC, Utah
    I agree with Mozilla. Open up the APIs and let the developers have at it. Benefits based on artificial constraints hurt everyone.
  6. Avatarshark macrumors regular

    Sep 22, 2012
    The Digital Frontier
    Honestly I only use Firefox Home just to open my firefox bookmarks, once I click on the bookmark, then I send the page to safari instead.
  7. mabhatter macrumors 6502a

    Jan 3, 2009
    No other browser ENGINES are allowed, so what's the point of making just another cheap Safari wrapper? Everything else is just different UI on top of The lame old version of Safari. The problem is that Apple certainly wouldn't allow any of the Firefox plugin structure to work, and Apple has all sorts of conditions on sharing information with outside servers so many of the things we USE Firefox for wouldn't work or would be specifically banned anyway.

    I have the Firefox Home App. That was a good idea to at least allow bookmarks and stuff to sync to your desktop Firefox. I didn't know they canceled it.
  8. drwatz0n macrumors member

    Jan 13, 2008
    New York, USA
    Firefox uses both a different Javascript and rendering engine than Safari and Chrome (which both use WebKit). It's not possible for Firefox to exist on the platform, with it's own Gecko rendering system, due to Apple's imposed restrictions. Don't compare Firefox and Chrome, it's two entirely different things.
  9. MassiveAttack macrumors 6502a

    Mar 28, 2010
    New York
    iOS users lose yet again. As always Apple frowns upon their users having a choice.
  10. thehustleman macrumors 65816

    Jan 3, 2013
    It's a computer, the should be no restrictions that the user themselves didn't place.

    Stop being a turd and open up
  11. maxosx macrumors 68020

    Dec 13, 2012
    Southern California
    Mozilla's no dummy.

    They know of the proprietary advantage Apple reserves for Safari, so as to make themselves look superior.

    Why should Mozilla waste time with the cards stacked against them. Even more impressive is they spoke out and called Apple on it.

    Google is a confident organization and doesn't resort to such games. Thus we Android users have a wonderful selection of competing apps like browsers & keyboards to choose from.

    Viva le choice!

    Thanks Google!
  12. Arms19 macrumors newbie


    Apr 15, 2010
    New York

    No, they won't do it because they don't want to shoot themselves in the leg with their base. It's also probably why they removed Sync. I used Sync once, and only once. It was slow, buggy, not very helpful, and just really only useful for accessing bookmarks. However, you had to jump through hoops just to get it.

    Chrome is useful, sure you can sync and have bookmarks and have unlimited tabs, etc. But it's still not made from a platform that can compete with the native browser, Safari.

    Read this:
  13. SteelWheel macrumors member

    Apr 16, 2008
    I've never jail-broken any of my iOS devices (although the temptation to do so grows every time I read an article like this one). Is there any compelling-ly better browser available on Cydia (including some kind of semi-homebrew Firefox remix)?

    IceWeasel for jail-broken iOS devices, anyone? :)
  14. Shrink macrumors G3


    Feb 26, 2011
    New England, USA
    I'm sure the Official Apple Keep An Eye On MacRumors Guy is, as I type this, noting your eloquently stated complaint about Apple's closed ecosystem, and is in the process of conveying said eloquently stated complaint to Tim Cook. Cook, being overwhelmingly impressed with your well stated and well reasoned argument, and realizing that you are a very special customer, is reversing Apple's well established system and opening everything up...especially for you.

    We all thank you for your important contribution to the welfare of all us Apple owners.

  15. calisurfboy macrumors regular


    Feb 26, 2008
    I started to use the google chrome browser for iOS simply because I enjoy having the option of tabs for all my windows while surfing. Seems like a small pointless addition but it is something that I enjoy and wish I had the option to allow in safari instead of having to zoom out and scroll through my pages back and forth repeatedly in the cover view style.
  16. nagromme, Mar 10, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2013

    nagromme macrumors G5


    May 2, 2002

    That's not the story. It's not an artificial constraint.

    Nitro (or a similar just-in-time compiler) in third party apps would mean they could put data into RAM and make it executable--a HUGE malware vector and source of risk. Unsigned native code can now run. The only reason Apple allows this risk in Safari is because they can work to keep Safari free of security flaws that would allow exploits. Apple can't control that in other apps, so they're not opening the door to such problems.

    That's the trade-off: speed vs. security. Apple has found a good compromise I think, but yes, JavaScript will run slower in third party apps--in other words, at the same perfectly acceptable speed Safari did before Nitro (only faster because today's hardware is faster).

    This doesn't mean it's not worth making a third-party browser. And it doesn't mean Apple should open up Android-style security holes.
  17. RMo, Mar 10, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2013

    RMo macrumors 65816


    Aug 7, 2007
    Iowa, USA
    They tried--that's what Firefox Home was. It was about all they could do. I don't see the point of making another (underpowered, also due to Apple) Safari wrapper, so their only other option is to pull an Opera and do server-side rendering, which also has its limitations.

    As for Google, they had an even easier time. They didn't really port over Chrome, they just wrote a UI and tied as much as they could in with your Google account (e.g., sync info) like you'd get with the desktop version. But it uses the iOS Webkit rendering engine. Since Chrome itself already uses Webkit, we're dealing with minor differences here at the most (in addition to the JS engine)--but they did NOT port over the rendering engine. That is all Apple. This would be a much more drastic "compromise" for Mozilla to make. As I mentioned above, Opera worked around this, but it's not ideal, and I suspect Opera will stop doing this now that they themselves are switching to Webkit on the desktop side.
  18. irDigital0l Guest

    Dec 7, 2010
    Apple..its time for option to chose default browser.
  19. ConCat macrumors 6502a


    Jul 27, 2012
    In an ethereal plane of existence.
    Not quite. Chrome uses its own JavaScript engine called V8. They had to give up that to make Chrome for iOS, so Firefox can do the same.

    I use chrome on my iDevices. It's quite a great browser, and much better than Safari. I even jailbroke so I could make it my default browser. It didn't need its JavaScript engine to be a great browser, and Firefox doesn't need its engines either. Firefox Home was a bad browser. Plain and simple.
  20. syd430 Guest

    The limitations are there so that no other browser can truly compete with Safari. I'm sure if this article was about the browser restrictions Microsoft imposed many years ago, your stance would be the complete opposite.
  21. Michael Goff macrumors G3

    Michael Goff

    Jul 5, 2012
    Google Chrome is a webkit-based browser.

    Firefox is a Geck-based browser.

    So you're saying they should take everything that makes Firefox what it is, and remove it. There would be no extensions, no Gecko, no special JavaScript engine.
  22. bb426 macrumors 6502


    Jun 7, 2011
    I don't think some of you who downplayed my original post understand what I mean entirely.

    First, I'm not comparing them to Google. Mozilla has their own engine, yes, and you can't release it (officially) for iOS. However, iOS also represents a very significant user base, and a great opportunity for Mozilla to release an alternative browser for iOS.

    Most people are just in it for the speed of the browser, and yeah, it's very critical. But well-developed, intuitive features, UI and compatibility are just as important, and can easily outplay the limitations Apple imposes on devs (some for ridiculous reasons, others for security).

    You can't release a perfect 1.0 product. Build upon it, get better. Span development out over time. Things change, and so will Apple. There are new updates to SDK's every year.... Take advantage of it.
  23. TC25 macrumors 68020

    Mar 28, 2011
    Say 'Hi' to Bill Ayers at your next 'Power To The People' anarchists reunion.
  24. lunaoso macrumors 65816


    Sep 22, 2012
    Boston, MA
    If it ended up being anything like the Mac version, I don't think we're missing much. :p
  25. seble macrumors 6502a

    Sep 6, 2010
    Oh boo who, tbh I really don't care that much.

    Firefox really isn't that great on the Mac anymore anyway.

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