Firefox Os

An Insight into the Firefox OS

Firefox OS is definitely creating buzz in the smartphone industry, but is it really capable of competing with the stable and most widely used Android and iOS? Well, As Mozilla puts it, Firefox OS is not developed with a sole purpose of being a mobile operating system, but through this platform they want to break the norm and make web completely open. Thus, it wants to replace native applications with browser-based ones built on open standards. This article will cover the highlights of the all new mobile operating system.

Codenamed as Boot to Gecko (B2G), its basically a web app which is built using standard web technologies. It is capable of launching other web apps too with an enhanced access to mobile device hardware and services.

What’s different in Firefox OS compared to other mobile operating systems?

  • Unlike other mobile operating systems, It is built upon open web standards like HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript
  • Mozilla has specifically developed Web APIs thus making it possible for HTML5 apps to communicate with the device’s hardware, which was only possible for native apps until now
  • Its just something more than a browser which is running on a very lightweight Linux-based operating system using the Monolithic Kernel
  • So everything in this OS, including the camera, bluetooth etc. is a web app, which is just like a website in form of an app
  • Firefox OS is powered by Gecko engine, runs only websites in the form of apps, known as web apps

Let’s now learn about the main components of the Firefox OS as mentioned in the figure above.

Gaia – Built entirely using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, this serves as the User Interface Layer in the OS. From home screen to any standard application in a smartphone, its interface is implemented by Gaia.

Gecko – This is the web engine, the one which connects hardware to HTML. As such, it has the HTML5 parsing and rendering engine, graphics stack, networking stack etc.

Gonk – Gonk is the Kernel level component for the Firefox OS. It initiates the complex hardware level requests and controls the mobile device.

To know about the architecture in details, please follow this link.

Can you start developing apps for Firefox OS ?

The answer is yes! If you are well versed with the basic web language then its just as easy for you to develop a firefox OS app. You only need to learn about some Javascript APIs which allows you to access the hardware.

You can either create a packaged app or a hosted app. To check out the currently available apps, you can visit this link.

Its currently supported on the devices like, Keon and Peak by Geeksphone, these are meant for developers only as of now. For others, the supporting devices are Samsung Galaxy S, Samsung Galaxy S 4G, Samsung Galaxy S2, Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Otoro, Unagi and Pandaboard.

So, what’s the future of Firefox OS?

Even though the underlying architecture seems to be promising, but is it possible to create really serious apps in javascript, html, css only? Is it really possible for everything to be a web app? I leave it to your comments below, so we will have a good introspection and discussion. Though, it is clear that Firefox OS has miles to go before it can actually create an impact but surely there are a good number of developers already following it. So, if this kicks off, it will change the way we use the web.

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