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10 September 2012, 16:29

New FoxBrowser for iPad talks Firefox Sync

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Foxbrowser logo

Soon after Mozilla discontinued development on Firefox Home, developer Simon Grätzer released Foxbrowser on the iOS App Store. The application is an open source browser for the iPad that can synchronise tabs, bookmarks and browsing history with desktop and Android instances of Firefox.

The project offers a "new tab" screen that is similar to the desktop version of the Firefox browser, showing users their most visited pages with thumbnails. Tabs from other devices are grouped by device and all content is synced securely, according to the developer.

In order to focus its resources on other projects, Mozilla retired its own synchronisation solution for iOS two years after getting it approved for the App Store. Firefox Home used the WebKit view from iOS to display pages, but was not designed to behave as a fully fledged browser. The open sourcing of its code led Mozilla developer Stefan Arentz to release a fork of Firefox Home called Bookmarks On The Go which opens bookmarks in the Safari browser.

FoxBrowser in action
Zoom FoxBrowser in action
Foxbrowser is also based on the Firefox Sync source code, but takes an alternative approach by presenting a complete browser to the user. It offers up to eight tabs in a Safari-style user interface, with history, bookmark and tab searching, and supports sending mail or tweets from within the application. However, limitations prevent bookmarks from being saved and tabs and history are not synced upstream to other devices.

Grätzer hopes that Mozilla will extend its support for iOS-based devices as he would like to contribute to a putative Firefox for iOS. He hopes that, if Mozilla releases its iOS Mozilla Junior project, he will be able to take code from that and provide full two-way sync.

Foxbrowser is available for download from the iOS App Store and its source code is available on GitHub. The software is licensed under the Apache 2.0 licence.


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