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No Firefox for iOS until Apple policy changes

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Mozilla has refused to entertain the notion of releasing a version of its Firefox web browser for iOS devices until Apple changes its restrictive third party policies.

As reported by CNET, Mozilla vice president of product Jay Sullivan revealed the news while speaking on a mobile browser panel at the South by Southwest Interactive conference.

Mozilla's chief bugbear is that Apple refuses to allow the ability to install alternative rendering engines onto its devices. Only its own WebKit can be used.

While this is fine for the likes of Google, whose Chrome browser runs on the WebKit platform just as Safari does, Mozilla uses the alternative Gecko rendering engine.

This isn't the only way Apple restrict third party web browser developers, either. It's impossible to set anything other than Safari as your default iOS web browser. This means that any links you touch will automatically open up in Safari and no other installed browser.

Mozilla pulled its version of Mozilla Firefox Home from the App Store back in September 2012, and is not currently working on a new version of the browser.

This is a risky move on Mozilla's part, as despite being available for the more open Android operating system, it is currently responsible for only one per cent of the mobile browser market. This stands in comparison to Apple's 55 per cent share with Safari.

Of course, it also has its own fledgling mobile OS, Firefox OS, to push over the coming months, and Apple is a direct rival to those plans.

Are you an iOS owner frustrated by the lack of Firefox on your phone? Or are you perfectly happy with Safari and Chrome? Let us know in the comments section below, or via Twitter and Facebook.

Jon Souter

March 11, 2013, 10:46 am

The thing is, FireFox without Gecko - isn't really FireFox at all.

Apple have lifted many of their restrictions since the iPhone 3 first started accepting 3rd party apps all them years ago. Maybe the browser restrictions will be eased before long.

Mobile Safari, Chrome and Atomic are all very strong on iPhone and especially on iPad - there's little need for another browser (as hinted at by Opera's lack of success on iOS to date).

Keith

March 11, 2013, 1:43 pm

This restriction policy is one of the reasons I didn't upgrade to the iPhone 5, and instead gone for a HTC One. At work I was looking into doing barcode reading using pure HTML 5 and Javascript and the phone camera, and yes it can be done, HTML 5 has the html5 media capture api, unfortunately Safari doesn't implement this yet. Not a problem I thought I'll download Opera that does, but this is only Opera Mini, and not Opera Mobile on iOS. My friend at work has a year old Android device, he was able to download the Opera Mobile and heh presto pure HTML5/Javascript barcode reading. This made me feel rather angry, so I'd say Apple have lost at least one fan (me) from stupid restriction policy.

What I really do find odd, is how Apple can do this. Microsoft have recently been fined millions for doing far less, with the browser selection going missing in W7.

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