As many expected, the Mozilla “Boot to Gecko” project has become “Firefox OS”. Gecko is the software behind the scenes of the Firefox web browser that reads the HTML, style sheets, etc. code and converts it into a webpage. Boot-to-Gecko is Mozilla’s plan to make a mobile phone platform based entirely on The Web.
Essentially, Mozilla will provide the user of the phone with default Web Applications which handle your telephony, settings, etc. Some of which you can replace with different software, but some will undoubtedly be fixed. You wouldn’t want some untrusted Web App taking over you security settings for example!
But there is one massive reason why the mobile web (and, in fact, the web in general) feels like the “little brother” of native applications: The Web/Device Barrier.
Historically, websites have not been able to get access to your webcam, or the camera on your phone, or your joystick, GPS, bluetooth, USB port, gyroscope, digital compass, etc. etc. Mozilla are attacking this problem head-on with a set of exciting new APIs, called Web API.
Some of the functionality included in this suite include:
- WebSMS – For sending/reading SMS messages direct from a web app.
- Camera API – (although not for v1!)
- WiFi Information API
- WebBluetooth – direct interface with the Bluetooth stack
- Web Activities – Analogous to Activities and Intents in Android, these allow you to delegate an activity to a different web application.
- WebNFC – (v.Next) A way of providing payment functionality direct from the web
- WebUSB – (v.Next) Low-level access to the USB ports
WebAPI has a serious chance of bridging the gap between native and Web applications.
You can find out more at these links: