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Firefox Arriving In iOS Soon

Firefox Arriving In iOS Soon

In all these years, one has to wonder: how come Firefox is not on iOS devices? Well, the wondering may stop soon because Mozilla is planning to bring its web browser to Apple mobile devices.


iOS users are among the most active Internet surfers in the planet, so bringing Firefox to iPhones and iPads should have happened already. So what gives? The answer is simple: Apple's own mobile web browser Safari.


Safari supports Just In Time (JIT) JavaScript compiling, but third-party web browsers (such as Firefox) do not have access to that. This means that they may be hobbled when executing JavaScript code and the Nitro engine on Apple's platform.


However, that is about to change with iOS 8, the latest version of the Apple's iOS mobile operating system, and with the addition of the WKWebView API, which means that third party web browsers like Firefox will be able to make use of the full capabilities of the JavaScript Nitro engine.


Much credit goes to Apple for allowing web browsers other than Safari to be used on iPhones and iPads. The true winners, of course, are iOS users who get to have another web browser option installed in their iOS devices. But here is a reminder: Safari will still be the default web browser when you open links in any app installed in your iOS device.


Interestingly, Mozilla had actually considered the idea of working with iOS before. As a matter of fact, about three years ago, the company was exploring the viability of releasing a web browser for the iPad. Known as Junior, that project unfortunately was never commercially released.


But now, Mozilla gets another chance at it. And with the WKWebView API, the company has an opportunity to make Firefox for iOS look and feel differently from Safari. Or perhaps Firefox for iOS could let users sync their bookmarked pages between their desktops and Apple's mobile operating system.


The move is also very strategic for Mozilla. Google's web browser Chrome is steadily increasing in popularity in both desktop and mobile platforms, while Firefox may be in dire need of a boost considering it is struggling to establish a solid presence in smartphones and tablets (aided in part by Safari's hold on iOS devices). A decade ago, Mozilla wanted to surpass the popularity of Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Now, its mission is to instill in the minds of consumers that they can use Firefox on mobile too.