Mozilla's Firefox OS to get major overhaul this year

If you've been less than impressed with Firefox’s nascent mobile OS, there’s some good news. Mozilla’s mobile platform will be seeing a UI overhaul in the coming months, it has been reported.


In a blog post, Mozilla has announced that it intends to move away from the current Android-heavy style of the Firefox OS and introduce more interface changes. Josh Carpenter, the User Experience lead of the Firefox OS also spoke about the upcoming changes in a press event on the sidelines of the Mobile World Congress, which is currently underway in Barcelona.


"With the new model, we're really simplifying and making what we think is the ultimate browsing experience," he was quoted as saying by CNET. Browsing is a key feature of the OS. Since all apps on it are built with Web technology, Firefox OS counts any action performed on it as browsing.


Mozilla likes to believe that the Firefox OS can provide deep level of customisations, unmatched by any other platform. The OS is made to change with the individual and tries to adapt to his interests and needs, offline use and even cost control. Dual-SIM slots, LTE networks, customisation of ringtones and home screens are on top of Mozilla’s mind as it shapes the Firefox OS of the future.


Swiping from the edges is all set to be an important gesture with the new OS. The top of the page will display information about the app or website the user is on currently. Swipe down to reveal a small text box where you can type search terms. The search results will contain information from the phone, the web and within apps. For the Firefox OS, everything constitutes as Web content and it will display it thus with the universal search result feature.


The Android-style pull down notification screen is moving houses, with the action now pulling out a task switcher instead. The notification screen can now be brought by swiping upwards from the bottom rather than swiping from the top. Swiping from left or right will switch the phone’s screen from one app to the other. Carpenter said that this move was made to be more fluid with apps and making changing between them a breeze.


Mozilla has also rewritten its software to control panning and scrolling from the bottom up. When you now slide your finger across the screen, it’s a lot more responsive and a lot smoother as well as “fun”. "Responsiveness is the single most important important factor that determines whether a person likes a product," Carpenter told adding that people prefer responsive panning over a beautiful appearance. Improving typing is also on Mozilla’s list of to-do. Accuracy and prediction are key areas for typing and Mozilla might want to look at that.


Also to be introduced are Firefox Accounts and services, a safe way to create a profile that users can carry with them. With Firefox Accounts, Mozilla can better integrate services including Firefox Marketplace, Firefox Sync, backup, storage, or even a service to help locate, message or wipe a phone if it were lost or stolen, according to the company.


Finally, the Firefox will have a new search-and-launch mechanism that will at least partially try to get rid of searching for and installing apps. Downloads will virtually be a thing of the past, reads Mozilla’s blog post. Instead, the idea is to simply launch apps. "I want to get rid of the install button 'Install' should be just 'open,'" Carpenter said.


The changes will come to Firefox OS over this year but no timeline mentioned for the same yet.

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