Apple and Mozilla may be competitors for browser market-share, but that hasn’t stopped the former from approving Firefox Home for the iPhone. The app allows users to sync their desktop’s Firefox history, bookmarks and open tabs with their iPhone, potentially streamlining the online lives of people who jump frequently between their PC and their mobile device.
“Get up and go and have everything waiting for you on your iPhone: Your Firefox history, bookmarks and open tabs, just as you had left them on your desktop computer,” reads the app’s accompanying description in the App Store. “Firefox Home is secure from end-to-end so your data is always safe.”
Setting up Firefox Home on the iPhone, however, is a somewhat lengthy process-but one, fortunately, broken down in detail on Mozilla’s Website. After installing a Firefox Sync account on their desktop, users are expected to connect it to Firefox Home via a series of setup screens.
After that, using the app is pretty straightforward. “Search, Tabs and Bookmarks are available by tapping the buttons at the bottom of the app window,” read the instructions on Mozilla’s Website. “When using search just type words related to the Website you are trying to find. Firefox Home will search through the titles and URLs of your open tabs, bookmarks and browsing history to find a match.” Even more detailed instructions can be found here.
Despite its reputation for vigorously controlling its ecosystem-the famous “Walled Garden”-Apple has been open about allowing competing products to play on its mobile devices. In April, Apple approved Opera Mini for iPhone, and the mobile browser went on to enjoy more than one million downloads within its first two days of release.
By allowing other companies’ applications and services onto its devices, though, Apple can also introduce an element of competition to its rivals. In June, Apple announced during its Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) that Microsoft’s Bing search engine would be offered as a baked-in alternative to Google on the iPhone, although the latter would remain the device’s default search engine.
“Apple and Google know the other is their primary enemy,” an unnamed source “familiar with the matter” told BusinessWeek on Jan. 20, soon after the first whispers of a possible Microsoft-Apple deal on the iPhone. “Microsoft is now a pawn in that battle.”
With Opera already present on the iPhone, the chances are probably good that other browsers will soon find their way onto the device, where they’ll compete with Apple’s Safari. Despite that, the possibility a mobile Firefox on the iPhone seems slim-at least according to Mozilla.
“We do not have plans to ship the Firefox browser on the iPhone,” reads a statement on the Mozilla Website. “Due to constraints with the OS environment and distribution, we cannot provide users Firefox for the iPhone.”