Mozilla updates Firefox OS simulator

Posted by Trent Nouveau

Mozilla released its first Firefox OS simulator for devs three months ago, while the second version of the app went live in February.

Version 3 will be available officially soon, but in the meantime, Mozilla is offering a preview of the app with a number of new features that are lined up and ready to go.

According to Mozilla's Robert Nyman, new features in this version include: push to device, rotation simulation, basic geolocation simulation and newer versions of the FF rendering engine and Gaia UI.

"Push to device means that if you have an existing device supporting Firefox OS, connected via USB, you will be able to push apps installed in the Firefox OS Simulator directly to that device. [In terms of rotation simulation], there’s now a feature to rotate the simulator, get events and more, to adapt your contents to both portrait and landscape," Nyman explained.

"[Plus], the simulator now supports geolocation, so you can test it in your app, and read out longitude and latitude values... And when you add an app to the Firefox OS Simulator, it also does a quick validation of your manifest file for errors and warnings, including problems that prevent installing the app in the Simulator, usage of APIs that the Simulator doesn’t yet simulate (not all APIs in there yet), and missing properties that are required by the Marketplace or devices."

Interested? Version 3 of the FF OS preview can be downloaded here

As TG Daily previously reported, the first FireFox OS phones are likely to arrive before the summer, built by Alcatel (TCL), Huawei, LG and ZTE. They'll be available initially in an eclectic list of countries - Brazil, Colombia, Hungary, Mexico, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia, Spain and Venezuela - with other markets to be announced 'soon'.

The company's focusing particularly on low-income regions which currently have low smartphone penetration. Based as it is on HTML 5, the Firefox OS is a comparatively easy sell to developers, who don't have to invest too much effort. The company's Firefox Marketplace, it says, will offer apps in categories like games, news and media, business and productivity.

Neil Shah of analyst firm Strategy Analytics says he expects the Firefox OS to reach a one percent market share this year - but that to expand beyond this, it will need to address at least three main challenges.

"They have modest brand awareness as an independent platform among smartphone consumers worldwide compared to the likes of Google and Nokia, a limited initial retail presence in the influential developed markets such as the United States market, and a relatively unproven ecosystem experience of supporting apps and services.

"It's going to be an interesting 2013, with a long tail of mobile OS platforms such as Firefox, Tizen, Sailfish, Ubuntu [challenging] the strong walled garden platforms, chipping away share [and] leveraging key operator and device OEM partnerships," he added.