Mozilla announced that its Firefox web browser for Apple's iOS platform is now ready for preview, but only for a select group of users for now.
iPhone and iPad users in New Zealand can now download the preview version of Firefox for iOS to take the mobile browser for a spin and send valuable feedback to Mozilla to help it improve the browser.
Those who do not live in New Zealand will have to wait a little longer, but Mozilla is allowing people to sign up to receive updates about when they can download the preview in their location. The goal, Mozilla says, is to collect feedback about certain features from a small group of testers first before expanding the preview's ability and finally opening it up to the general public as a full browser sometime this year.
"Feedback from this preview release will help us build new features and bring Firefox for iOS to the App Store in rest of the world later this year," says Mozilla in a blog post.
For the first release, Mozilla says it wants to gather feedback on three specific features. The first is Intelligent Search, which offers suggested search results from a variety of search engines. Firefox Accounts is another feature. It enables users to sync their browser information, such as their history, saved passwords and tabs, across the desktop browser and the mobile version. The third feature is Visual Tabs, which provides a clearer view of what tabs are currently open.
For years, Mozilla had put off developing a version of its web browser for iOS, pointing at Apple's strict requirements for developers as a major stumbling block. Earlier this year, however, Mozilla decided it was time to go to iOS, which may be explained by its dwindling market share on desktop and Android, which is dominated by Chrome. Apple's Safari, meanwhile, is the most used mobile browser on iOS.
Mozilla's earlier refusal to create Firefox for iOS stemmed from the fact that Apple would not allow it to use its own rendering engine. However, Mozilla announced in May that the team "saw an opportunity" with the latest development tools for iOS, which it jumped on to develop a new version of its web browser. It also released the source code for the early version on GitHub for adventurous users.
J. Albert Bowden II | Flickr