Mozilla to develop own mobile operating system

July 26, 2011

Mozilla to develop own mobile operating systemMozilla is to build its own operating system for mobile devices. It’s based partially on Google’s Android system, but conceptually is reminiscent of Google Chrome.

The basic idea of the project, dubbed Boot to Gecko, is that instead of applications running on the phone itself, they will run on the Web. It’s yet another attempt to allow developers to produce apps that work on multiple devices without having to worry about the manufacturer.

The project does follow in the footsteps of the idea that HTML 5 could serve a similar purpose, which apps looking like they were standalone but actually running on a webpage in the phone browser, an idea that hasn’t really caught on.

Boot to Gecko will use Android elements as its core, but the developers say they want to use as little Android content as possible. While that may appear simply an attempt to be original and independent, there’s some speculation its also an attempt to keep out of intellectual property wranglings as much as possible. It’s even possible the Android elements being used may simply be placeholders to allow easy testing and will be replaced later on.

The project will be carried out “in the open” with source code released as soon as it is developed, and there’s an appeal for both Mozilla and outside developers to take part.

One of the primary tasks of the project will be finding ways to connect the functionality of individual devices such as the camera, text messaging and of course the phone itself, to the Web-based applications. That in turn will require a secure system for making sure access to the phone doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

It’s certainly a lofty goal to have any app available on any phone. But even the existing team admit “This project is in its infancy; some pieces of it are only captured in our heads today, others aren’t fully explored.”

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