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DEVELOPMENT: Firefox Mobile receives another Proposal - Work in Progress
Posted by Arne Hess - on Thursday, 21.02.08 - 16:32:23 CET under 02 - Windows Mobile News - Viewed 14281x
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Following the first proposal, the developers of Firefox Mobile/Mozilla Mobile (the final name is still not decided) have posted another proposal of how the mobile version of Firefox could looks and works. While the first proposal also included information about a touchscreen-less UI, this proposal concentrates on touchscreen smartphones only (like Windows Mobile Classic PDAs and Windows Mobile Professional smartphones). Even if still in an early phase of discussion, the mockups and described functions looks quite promising already and if a Mobile Firefox will ever be released, it's quite foreseeable that we will relive another "browser-war", as we have seen it on the PC in the mid-90's but this time it will happens on mobile devices. Also it's unlikely that this time Microsoft will join the party (an possibly win), except something is cooking in Redmond nobody is aware of yet, but Mozilla, with its Firefox Mobile, and Opera Software, with its soon to be released Opera Mobile 9.5, will be the actors.

The main GUI of Firefox Mobile will include an "embossed" Firefox logo on the screen bottom that allows quick access to the most frequently operations (see bellow) and an "embossed" back button:

This allows quick access to the previous page, something that is, in the developers opinion, very useful when navigating multiple links from a home page, e.g. clicking on different links from the main page. An important planned feature of this main screen is that users can visit a website and visit different links on it (one at a time, returning the main page after reading a link), without ever activating the toolbar and following main functions are planned:

  • Pan/Scroll directly by dragging the screen
  • Zoom using touch/hold/drag
  • Go back with one tap on the back icon
  • Open the Toolbar with one tab on the Firefox icon

Touch operations on the screen above are as discussed:

  • Single Tap: On a link, navigate. Elsewhere, pan page to center on tap location.
  • Double Tap: Switch between full page view & zoomed view. If in full page view, double tap will zoom the page to readable size, centered on the tap location.
  • Touch & Drag: Pan in the direction of the drag.
  • Touch & Hold for 1 sec. & Move: Zoom in or out.
  • Touch & Hold for 2 sec. on a Link: This can show link information. On text, it can switch to text selection mode (for copy/paste operations).

Tapping the embossed Firefox icon will display the toolbars as shown bellow.

  • The Bottom Toolbar contains buttons for back, forward, places and tabs.
    • Tapping on the back/forward buttons will navigate back/forward and hide the toolbar.
    • Tapping once on the places icon will bookmark the current page. Tapping twice can could open the places screen.
    • Tapping on the tab button could open the tab screen.
    • Tapping on the Firefox logo will close the toolbars.
  • The Second Toolbar has the URL text field and the reload button.
    • Tapping the URL text field will open the URL entry screen.

On devices with a multitouch interface, all functions could optionally be accessed without menus. This would be more intuitive, and not too onerous. For example, a user could go back and forward with left and right swipes. Going to bookmarks could entail pinching the current page until it is smaller than the screen, which would fill the page with thumbnails of web pages. The current tabs would be in the center of the screen, with the most frequently used bookmarks surrounding them.

However, that's not all. According to the proposal, the Mozilla Mobile team even plans to support dedicated Mobile Firefox extensions
which can be added through additional toolbars and can be stacked atop the standard toolbars to support Mobile Firefox extensions.

This might become one of the major differences to other mobile browsers since the developers noted, that "Extensions are a key feature of Firefox and any UI proposal must provide a UI mechanism for extensions".

A final release release of Firefox Mobile shouldn't be expected before end of 2008 with first available Betas possibly available from Fall.

Cheers ~ Arne

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