Mozilla’s Jay Sullivan talks about the future of Fennec and why it won’t appear on Android Market any time soon

While the alpha version of mobile Firefox, more commonly known as “Fennec” these days, has already been out for several weeks, it shouldn’t be forgotten that a proper beta version will be released shortly, and a full-fledged version 1.0 will be rolled out in the near future. But how near? Mozilla’s VP of mobile Jay Sullivan lets us in on all the juicy details and more, via a recent interview with ABC News.

The alpha release of Fennec is already available for download, and so far, Sullivan says the developer-feedback has been rather positive. It is also said that early tests are showing competitive JavaScript performance with Android and mobile Safari JavaScript performance, which also means competitive speed.


In the coming months, as more and more developers gain access to Fennec’s inner workings and start to get to know it a little better than us normal, consumer folk, we will start to see the emergence of add-ons that will make it all the more useful. Though it’s barely “consumer-ready” right now, as per Jay Sullivan’s comments, we could officially see Fennec on consumer phones as early as the first part of 2009.

And it’ll incorporate the so-called “Awesome Bar” from Firefox 3.0, which does much more than your usual browser URL bar, as well as support for Mozilla’s research project called Weave. “One of my goals with Fennec is to leverage the number of Firefox users we have on the desktop,” Sullivan says, and Weave will help make this possible as it enables users to access his desktop remotely over the Web.

However, aside from the many kinks and bugs that still remain with Fennec in its current version, Mozilla also faces the difficult task of finding ways to distribute it. The mobile Safari browser is pretty much one of the iPhone’s biggest selling points, with its ability to render pages as desktop-accurate as possible (and speedily at that), so it could be a long shot for Fennec to appear in the app store in the future.

Likewise, Microsoft, Google, and RIM all bundle mobile web browsers with their mobile operating systems, which are Windows Mobile, the open-source Android, and BlackBerry, respectively. So Fennec could also have a hard time in making its way to those platforms. Hopefully, Mozilla manages to strike out deals with handset makers the way Opera has with its mobile browser, Opera Mini.

Further in his interview, Sullivan teases that future versions of Fennec might work with haptic interfaces and some sort of voice control. But don’t hold your breath for those because they may still take months, if not years to develop and deploy. For now, any user who’s familiar with Firefox on the desktop should know that a mobile version alone is worthy of anticipation, haptic interface and voice control support or not.

Finally, Sullivan answers one of the most asked questions ever posed since the existence of mobile Firefox was confirmed: when will it ever appear on Android? According to Sullivan, it won’t. At least not until Google accepts programs that aren’t written in Java for Android. Apparently, Android doesn’t support applications that run directly on the OS without the need to be written in Java, but if things change in the future, then Sullivan says that Android is “interesting for us. We’ll have to see which direction Google goes with that.”

Via ABC News

Author: David Gonzales

I run the blogosphere.

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