Mozilla confirms Android-like mobile OS project

News Richard Goodwin 09:27, 26 Jul 2011

Mozilla, the foundation behind the Firefox browser, has confirmed that it is developing its own Android-style mobile operating system called ‘Boot to Gecko’

Mozilla has confirmed that it is working on its own open-source Android-like mobile operating system. It’s codenamed ‘Boot to Gecko’ at present and is built using the Gecko engine that powers Firefox.

News of a Mozilla smartphone first hit last year when the company commissioned a concept video for its Mozilla Seabird handset. Back then it was just a concept – and a million miles away from reality.

This is no longer the case. But why would Mozilla want to enter a market that is already pretty much dominated by Google and Apple?

According to Mozilla’s Andreas Gal, the ultimate goal of Boot to Gecko is to break “the stranglehold of proprietary technologies over the mobile device world.”

But to do this Mozilla’s Boot to Gecko operating system will have to borrow more than a few lines of code from Google’s Android platform. Of course Mozilla has officially played this down, claiming that it will ‘use as little of Android as possible.’

But the big draw for developers is that Mozilla’s Gecko OS won’t be limited to the Android SDK. It’s designed to be a standalone operating system for the open web and, for this reason, will use HTML5-based development tools instead.

Here’s the official line via Mozilla’s blog:

“We will do this work in the open, we will release the source in real-time, we will take all successful additions to an appropriate standards group, and we will track changes that come out of that process. We aren’t trying to have these native-grade apps just run on Firefox, we’re trying to have them run on the web.”

At present there’s no official word on a launch for the operating system or what kind of hardware the Gecko-powered devices will be running.

Nor is there any indication about whether Mozilla will be producing handsets itself to launch the platform on or simply letting other manufacturers take the strain on that front.

Here’s a video of Mozilla’s Seabird concept smartphone:

 

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