Firefox OS

Gina Trapani:

In the five minutes I had to play with it, I was impressed with Firefox OS. It’s a modern touchscreen operating system with smooth interactions, an array of apps, and all the settings and customizations you’d expect. In my short time with the phone, which was not connected to the internet, I played a game of 2048, poked around the settings, and panned and zoomed around a maps app. I would have liked the 2048 tiles to slide more smoothly, and the map scrolling and panning to stutter less, but the groundwork is there. It is a web-based operating system that worked offline well, and there was no distinction between local apps and web apps.

I’ve been playing around with a Firefox OS phone1 for a few weeks now, and I really like it. I think the most interesting thing about it is how simple everything feels. It feels like the first iPhone, with some additional modern amenities.

The lock screen shows notifications and allows you to insta-launch the camera. The home screen is pretty bare-bones. It scrolls down, instead of sideways, like the iPhone’s.

Firefox OS comes with a bunch of built-in apps, pretty much everything you’d expect from a mobile phone. The visual style of the OS is flat and simple, more reminiscent of Android’s Material design than the iPhone’s gaudy transparencies and layer effects.

If you need more apps, there’s an app store, and thanks to the fact that apps in Firefox OS are all web apps,2 it’s pretty well-stocked.

Like Firefox OS itself, the keyboard eschews any fanciness. It does its job.

There’s really not a lot of crazy stuff in Firefox OS. One small nice feature is that you can switch between apps by swiping in from the left or right screen edge, but there’s no nifty cards metaphor for app switching3 and no spatial menu. Firefox OS is just really simple, solid, friendly, easy to use smartphone platform. And perhaps that’s not a bad thing; perhaps there’s room in the market for a platform like this.

  1. This one↩︎

  2. Hello, WebOS :-) ↩︎

  3. Firefox OS does have an app switcher, of course, just not one as genius as WebOS’s. ↩︎

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