Firefox OS has been presented at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. It is an open-source mobile operating system based on HTML 5 and other open web standards, designed to be a lighter smartphone OS that can run on cheaper devices.
Like other mobile operating systems, it has an app store, Firefox Marketplace. However, Mozilla says you don’t have to use the Marketplace, and developers will be free to distribute apps to you without using it.
While the app-grid interface looks similar to iOS or Android, the search is different. As well as searching your apps, Firefox OS also searches the Marketplace and the internet, so you should always find what you want. Any apps you find in a search can be pinned to one of your home-screens.
Firefox OS comes with Facebook, Wikipedia and Twitter apps installed, and there are plenty of other big names that already have apps developed for the platform. Our first impressions of using the OS were good. It’s pretty fluid and responsive, even when running a few apps .
Breaking the hegemony of Android and iOS will be tough, Firefox OS has two advantages – it’s open source, and will run on cheap hardware. It’s not as polished as the competition yet, but breaking the trend of ‘walled gardens’ may be enough for Firefox OS to get a foothold in the market.
Firefox OS will be launched in Brazil first, and is expected in the US in 2014.