Posted on 27th February 2013
Mozilla and Firefox are names that have become commonplace in the tech world thanks to the popular browser. In fact, Firefox is commonly used by millions of web users throughout the world; our Web Team tests carphonewarehouse.com on Firefox to make sure everything runs perfectly. What's more, Firefox has become so popular that its features have spread to other browsers, and even spawned a mobile version for smartphones. Now, a Firefox Operating System has been created.
At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, we've actually seen Firefox running on a smartphone, the ZTE Open. Instead of going for the premium smartphone market, the ZTE Open and Firefox is a budget to medium range smartphone. Some reports suggested that the OS was a bit buggy and slow, but the handsets we trialled were fine. The look and feel will be familiar to any iOS or Android user, with icons for apps, a homescreen where you can pin shortcuts, camera functions, call functions and so on.
One of the nifty features that we were shown was the search function. When you search for say, 'Coldplay', the OS pulls up everything associated with the search item. So you get results for apps like YouTube and Twitter, internet resources like Wikipedia, as well the music player and the songs or playlists on your device.
It's also worth mentioning that results are displayed in a way that looks similar to the app drawers we're used to. So, even if you don't have YouTube installed, the YouTube icon will display like an app and jump to the YouTube site.
Which leads us on to another feature; since Firefox OS is written in web standards, apps don't need to be installed to run perfectly, anything written in HTML 5 will run from the net. Since Firefox is currently aiming at the budget end of the market, space on its phones will likely be low. Not having to install apps in the first place will be mighty useful.
There's also a rather techy feature that will help Firefox OS avoid a few of the problems affecting systems like Windows Phones and BB10, namely apps. Firefox OS is written in HTML 5, the latest version of the code that the internet is written in. You know Google's homepage and the little animations and games that power it? They're HTML 5, and it's all over the place - there are loads of people that already know HTML 5, whereas with other operating systems a new system might have to be learnt. The long and the short of it means that apps should be easier to write for more people, and there's already millions of people out there making HTML 5 programs.
Another OS we've heard a lot about lately is Tizen, pronounced Tie-zn. Like Android and Firefox, this is open source, so it's free to use on devices and the code that makes it run is freely accessible. We went over to the Intel stand, the manufacturer that produces Tizen, and they're demoing Tizen as a mirroring app. An S III was hooked up to a touchscreen display that can be mounted in a car dash board. Just connect the smartphone to the Tizen monitor and the Tizen programme on the S III's screen will be reflected on the monitor. You can control the phone via the touchscreen and all music, calls etc go through the car's equipment. Interestingly, more than one device can connect, so a back seat passenger could display directions, for example. What has really made Tizen hit the headlines is that Samsung will be using Tizen to replace its popular but now elderly Bada OS. Again, Tizen is aimed at the budget phone market, a simple, straight forward OS. Samsung's plans for Tizen involve a few tweaks. Parts of Bada will be integrated into Tizen, the best parts says Samsung, giving a hybrid of the two, although heavily weighted in the favour of the new Tizen.
The apps that will run on the new OS will be designed from the ground up of course, but any existing Bada apps will also run on it, giving it a thousands of right from the off. Tizen-specific apps won't work on older Bada phones though.
Samsung is confident that we'll be seeing a number of handsets from the manufacturer running Tizen in 2013.
For the latest rumours and tech gossip, head over to our Launchpad