Big news this week for iOS users. Firefox became the latest major mobile browser to become available for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch users. Will Firefox be able to displace market-share from its more established rivals? Safari is already the default for all iOS devices, Chrome has long been available. Coming in third, the less popular Opera also makes a browser for Apple products already… so Firefox is definitely late to the party.
It may be an uphill battle, as Firefox use has declined among desktop users in favor of Google’s Chrome which came along with a drop in support from Google which was once one of Firefox’s primary backers. Rivalry among browser makers remains fierce, as users turn to their phones and tablets for web browsing in increasing numbers. Firefox’s strategy is to offer a variety of new features not available on other iOS browsers.
New features include visual thumbnails to keep track of all your open pages, with numbered tabs allowing you to easily find and add web content. Now with your Firefox account, you can easily sync your browsing history and passwords across different devices with your desktop as well. Another nice feature includes choosing your default search provider, including Bing, Google and Yahoo, as well as other frequently accessed services including Amazon, Twitter and Wikipedia. One of our favorite features with the new Firefox iOS is saving pages, allowing users to download, and read offline. Security features are bundled in the app, with Firefox porting it’s private browsing mode, which rejects all cookies and history entries, and disables third-party tracking. History, passwords, and any other private data can be deleted with just one click.
Why so late to the party? Mozilla resisted the move to iOS, due to the unfriendly atmosphere and closed operating system offered to third party browser developers. In the end, numbers spoke volumes, forcing Mozilla to adapt. One possible new drawback to this new field entry is Apple’s restrictive policies, which force third party browsers to use the same core technology as Safari. These limitations result in not a brand new (and possibly more dynamic) browsing experience. Like all the major iOS browsers, the end result is a new face on old, somewhat limited, Safari WebKit technology.
Firefox for iOS is free to iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch users and is also optimized for the large screen of the newest iPad Pro.
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