New developer hardware and tools show Firefox OS ecosystem momentum
Mozilla has today announced new developer reference hardware and tools that will continue to accelerate momentum around the Firefox OS ecosystem. The announcement makes it cheaper, faster and easier for developers, operators and OEMs to deploy innovative web apps and create personalised Firefox OS experiences, claimed Mozilla.
Mozilla announced a 4.5 inch dual core reference phone, enabling developers to test new Firefox OS features and apps against different memory configurations. It also expanded the Mozilla tablet programme that helps developers test their apps and build out Firefox OS for tablets.
New Firefox OS PhoneGap integration was also announced, allowing PhoneGap developers to port their existing apps to Firefox OS in a matter of hours, while new WebAPIs will continue to narrow the gap between native and web apps.
At Mobile World Congress today, Mozilla also launched developer tools that will allow OEMs and operators to easily customise Firefox OS for a variety of customer segments.
New developer reference phone, the Firefox OS Flame, enables developers to test the capabilities of Firefox OS in a real environment with a mobile network and true hardware characteristics like the accelerometer, NFC and camera.
Like the commercially available Firefox OS phones, the Flame developer reference phone is powered by a Qualcomm processor, in this instance a high powered 1.2GH dual core processor, so developers can test their more processor-intensive games and apps with ease.
Developers looking to target their apps for specific Firefox OS phones with lower memory footprints also have the option to alter the RAM capacity of the Flame, from 1GB to 256MB, to see how their apps would perform on lower specked phones. The Flame also provides developers and early adopters with access to the latest Firefox OS builds to test nightly releases and contribute to the overall development platform.
Firefox OS will be supported in the next release of PhoneGap, a developer tool for building apps across platforms. This builds on the recently announced Firefox OS integration with Cordova, a popular Apache Foundation open source project that allows HTML5 applications to be packaged as native apps.
App Manager brings the Firefox web developer tools to mobile app developers. It shows how the power of the web helps developers test, deploy and debug web apps on Firefox OS phones directly from their desktop. The Firefox web developer tools are already used by millions of web developers for creating web pages, and now the App Manager extends these capabilities to mobile app creation, with the same familiar workflow. There is no SDK to download; developers simply use the App Manager as part of the integrated developer tools in the Firefox browser.
A recent survey by Strategy Analytics found that the number of mobile app developers building for Firefox OS is expected to triple in 2014, showing the biggest rise in developer interest of any mobile platform.
Vision Mobile recently published a report showing that developer interest for Firefox OS continues to grow, capturing 7% of developer mindshare in just six months. The report also highlighted that during the first quarter of 2014, 52% of developers were already using HTML5 for mobile websites or web apps, with an additional 16% indicating their intention to join them.
'It's clear that more and more developers are choosing the web as their preferred development platform for mobile apps, as the technical gap between native and web apps narrows,' said Brendan Eich, Mozilla CTO and SVP engineering. 'We listen to what developers are asking for to make the Web their primary development platform and think Mozilla and its partners have made significant progress with these new hardware, tools, and WebAPIs. It'll be exciting to see what new mobile innovations come in 2014.'