The mobile market may still essentially be a two horse race, with Android and iOS enjoying a significant lead, but there are lots of upstarts trying to make inroads, too. One of those is Firefox OS, Mozilla’s attempt to bring a web-first focus to smartphones. Geeksphone has been an early Firefox OS hardware supporter, and now it has put the Revolution up for sale, a higher-end device than its earlier efforts, complete with the ability to dual-boot to both Android and Firefox OS out of the box. If you’re used to working in a corporate environment but also being cool during evenings and weekends, then you might be familiar with dual-booting: I’ve been known to have my Macs run Windows on a Boot Camp partition for when I need to pierce the veil and travel to the Microsoft realm. It’s actually a pretty common scenario in desktop computing, and there are a number of products including virtualization software designed to facilitate it. But is there the same kind of utility in the mobile world? Firefox OS is definitely still an outlier when it comes to the mobile platform landscape, and as such, there’s very little in terms of pressing reasons to have it as an option. That said, the eternally curious and those who sympathize with Mozilla’s approach to software, open source and the web will probably find plenty to love about Firefox OS on a device with decent mid-range specs (it appears mostly on lower-end hardware, in keeping with Mozilla’s target market for the OS). Specs for the phone include a dual-core Intel Atom processor at 1.6GHz, as well as HSDPA cellular support, and an 8 megapixel rear camera with a 1.3 megapixel front shooter. The Revolution retails for €222, and is sold direct from the Geeksphone website. Shipments start going out March 4, so eager shoppers won’t have to wait long before they start acting like mobile chameleons.
Hours after LG unveiled its webOS-powered smart TV interface at CES, Panasonic has spilled the beans on its own mobile-inspired TV plans — announcing a partnership with Mozilla to use the latter’s Firefox OS (FFOS) and open Web standards ethos to open up the living room’s primary screen. Firefox OS can currently be found cooling its heels on some low-end phone hardware — mostly in Europe and developing markets in South America. The HTML5-based mobile OS has a mountain to climb in competing with the dominance — and reach — of Google’s Android OS. So Mozilla seeking to push it beyond mobile hardware to expand the ecosystem’s reach makes some sense. Whether the FFOS interface is going to be compelling enough to bag Panasonic smart TV buyers at the expense of other offerings, or for developers to rally behind an open platform banner for building TV apps and integration remains to be seen. “Mozilla and Panasonic will work together to promote Firefox OS and its open ecosystem,” the pair said in a press release today. ”This development aims to deliver more expansive access into smart TVs by leveraging the HTML5 and Web technologies already prevalent on PCs, smartphones and tablets, to offer consumers more personalized and optimized access to Web and broadcasting content and Web services.” Yuki Kusumi, Director of the TV Business Division of the AVC Networks Company of Panasonic, added in a statement that the partnership with Mozilla will be aimed at ramping up the interactivity and connectivity of its smart TVs — “both inside and outside of the home”. “Panasonic had been expanding content and services dedicated for Panasonic TVs on our own portal site and our collaboration with Mozilla on Firefox OS will further accelerate various innovations and encourage many new services,” he added. The forthcoming FFOS-powered Panasonic smart TVs will make use of Mozilla WebAPIs for hardware control and operation — meaning they will also be capable of monitoring and operating other devices, such as smart home appliances. At the time of writing, Mozilla was unable to provide any screen shots of the FFOS TV interface but the pair talked up the potential offered by cross-leveraging Internet, cloud services and broadcast content, and using HTML5 to write native TV functions instead of having to create embedded programs. With the launch of this new open platform, next generation smart TVs will gain full compatibility with Web technologies and HTML5 standards used
Meatspace, an addictive new web service and mobile app is part Snapchat, part Twitter and part animated gifs. It works like this: You write an update in 250 characters or less and then pose for the camera on your computer or phone. The service then records and makes a two-second animated loop.
Mozilla’s long-delayed Firefox for Windows 8 tablets has finally made its first public appearance outside of the relatively obscure and unstable Nightly development channel. As Mozilla announced today, the chrome-less tablet version of Firefox that runs in Windows 8′s Metro/Modern UI mode is now available in the Aurora release channel. From there, it will slowly make its way to the beta and then stable channel. It’s not expected to arrive in the stable version before late January 2014.
Crowdsourced bug bounty marketplace Bugcrowd has raised $1.6 million from investors to grow its community of 3,000 vetted security penetration testers who can find vulnerabilities and weaknesses in a new feature or application. The Australian startup is hoping to democratise the models commercialised by Facebook and Google, who have paid out millions of dollars to ethical hackers who find and report bugs in their software — before those vulnerabilities are exposed publicly.
App Stores are broken. It’s virtually impossible to find the interesting apps among the thousands of low-quality offerings. If an app isn’t in the top 10 of its respective category, chances are you won’t find it. Apple’s “Genius” feature was so dumb, it was dropped in iOS 7 and replaced with an even less interesting “Apps Near Me” feature that shows you the apps the people around you are using. Microsoft is trying to fix the top 10 myopia by launching a more curated app store experience in Windows 8.1, but even there, existing rankings still play a major role. Mozilla, which is only now getting into the mobile game thanks to its Firefox OS initiative, has had the advantage of seeing what its competitors have been doing for the last few years. While the current Firefox OS Marketplace isn’t all that revolutionary (though it’s focus on web apps gives it an interesting new spin on the app store concept), the organization laid out plans for an app store prototype last week that puts some interesting new twists on what its competitors are doing. In today’s app stores, Mozilla argues, “you only see the content picked by whoever maintains the app store. It’s hard to feel that personal connection.” Even if you want to browse for new apps, you don’t know what to search for, unless your friends tell you about an app or you read about it somewhere. In its prototype, the Firefox OS Marketplace team is using a news feed-like experience to tailor the app store experience to the individual user. The idea here is to allow users to follow content they are interested in without implementing a complicated “follow” mechanism. In the prototype, users simply express their interest by clicking on a small heart-shaped icon “to see the updates and related content in the future.” In the long run, however, Mozilla envisions that users will curate the majority of the feed. It’s not clear what exactly this curation process will look like – and it’s something some third-party app stores have also tried – but it’s a concept few of the other vendor stores have tried so far and given the importance of social signals. Android’s store, of course, tells you when an app has also been downloaded by your friends, but that’s still a very different experience from essentially offering curated lists from your friends. The
Mozilla was late to mobile and now it’s trying to catch up. For a while now, the nonprofit has been releasing mobile versions of its Firefox browser for Android, but its most ambitious project to date is its Firefox OS mobile operating system for smartphones.
Earlier this month, the Chinese handset manufacturer ZTE made the first set of its entry-level unlocked $80 Firefox OS phones available in the U.S. and the U.K. and quickly sold out the first batch of about 1,000 devices in each country. In Europe, the devices were already on sale through Deutsche Telekom in Poland and Telefonica in Colombia, Spain and Venezuela.