Firefox OS: the versatile and open mobile operating system

Hi everyone, I'm Aaron and this is my first article for InTheBit.
After careful observation aimed at choosing a valid topic for peeping out on this blog, I decided to show off Firefox OS as a workhorse.

Firefox OS is a mobile operating system based on Android kernel and Open Source Web standard.

Announced by Mozilla in July 2011 under the name of Boot to Gecko and renamed after one year with the name of the well-known browser of the same community, in 2013 the first devices for sale are presented: the ZTE Open and l 'Alcatel One Touch Fire, the latter also arrived in Italy through the TIM telephone company.

Firefox OS looks like a revolutionary mobile operating system, both in terms of user experience and development, let's see why together.


As for the user experience, Firefox OS could be summarized with an adjective: simplicity.
In fact, the developers of this system have focused on simplicity and intuitiveness in use, through an interface that does not distinguish between Home and App Drawer and implementing a adaptive research that allows you to do anything without browsing a thousand screens. Through this search bar it will be possible to launch the apps installed on your device or search the Web.

The system will also advise us on the applications present on the Marketplace inherent to the research carried out, suggestions that we will find also in the lower part of the Smart Folder, thematic folders that can be added to the home that automatically organize the installed applications.

In these years of development Firefox OS has purchased a new graphic design and numerous functionality which lead him to compete more and more on a par with the other best known mobile operating systems.
In fact, from the 2.0 version one was introduced UI completely revisited developed completely vertically, detaching itself from the view "to pages" to which we are all used and making available theaccess to global search from any application with a simple touch on the word "Search the Web" on the notification bar.

Below is a short video showing the evolution of Firefox OS from the 1.3 version to the 2.2:

But the real innovation of Firefox OS lies in how this system was designed.

Build a complete operating system for the open web, able to close the gap that prevents developers from creating web applications identical to the native apps developed for Android, iOS and Windows Phone.

Firefox OS in fact does not use no proprietary technology: the entire UI, like system and non-system applications, are developed in HTML5. This means that the system will result very light, allowing it to be run on any entry-level device (such as the Intel Cloud FX, a smartphone with Firefox OS marketed in India for just 30$).

All of it OBVIOUSLY Open Source, which gives it an extra edge.
I sources of Firefox OS are in fact available on GitHub to this link and can be modified for any need, if not filled in to be installed on any Android smartphone.

Let's now go a little more specifically, to see how this Mozilla-branded mobile system is structured.
Firefox OS consists of three different levels:

  • Gonk - is the lowest level of the system, the firmware in short. Includes the Linux kernel (Android) and the Hardware Abstraction Layer
  • Gecko - is the run-time system of B2G (Boot to Gecko) and contains the system's JavaScript rendering engine. That's right, the same one used by the Firefox browser
  • Gaia - is the UI, the user interface, completely written in HTML, CSS and JavaScript and interfaces with the system through the Open Web API provided by Gecko. These are standard APIs, which allows Gaia to be able to run on other platforms as well.

In conclusion I would like to dwell for a moment on the standards used by Firefox OS.

As I have already said, respect the Web standard, which allows any WebApp developer to make their own projects available even for this platform without having to rewrite the application.
Conversely, applications developed for Firefox OS can also be run on desktop and devices Android, without particular precautions in the programming phase, after installing the Firefox browser to satisfy some required dependencies, as the application is not written in native code for the platform.

For more information, please refer to the Official site.

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