You may not have heard, but Mozilla has spent years working on a mobile operating system that it calls Firefox OS. As it is finally reaching a larger audience in developing countries, the whole project is beginning to feel more “real.”
To provide a truly free and open-source alternative to Android, Firefox’s mobile platform is making it to hardware all over the developing world with longer-term plans to come to the USA. While Android is free and does not require licensing fees, access to the Google Play Store brings a private, for-profit entity (Google) into the mix. Firefox OS is designed to work on devices without manufacturers needing to please Google or anyone else first.
Unlike Android, iOS, and Windows Phone apps, Firefox OS apps are built on open web standards like HTML5 rather than proprietary code. Much like Chrome apps, Firefox OS apps are scalable to any screen size and will not require a great deal of tweaking to work on a theoretically limitless amount of devices.
In a demonstration of the adaptability of Firefox OS apps, Mozilla has announced that Firefox OS apps can now run on Android devices. The only catch, really, is that the Android user must have Firefox installed first. Once that happens, you can go to the Firefox Market and start downloading apps (you’ll have to allow apps to be installed from outside sources in the security settings) and they’ll work exactly like Android apps, including a presence in the app drawer. They’ll be indistinguishable from Play Store apps once installed.
Take a look at some of these in action:
I tested this out on my Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 by downloading the Wikipedia app from the Firefox Market. It worked like a charm, just as advertised.
The point of this, beyond just making apps available to more people, is probably to encourage app developers to work on apps for Firefox OS. By showing that a Firefox OS app is also an Android app and a web app, Mozilla is hoping to make developers realize that the Firefox platform allows them to develop apps that work across all devices.