Mozilla building iPad mobile browser to rival Apple's Safari

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Mozilla is developing a browser optimized for Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad that is designed to replace the bestselling tablet's native Safari browser.

Mozilla unveiled the iPad browser, codenamed "Junior," at a presentation late last week, indicating the project has been in the works for several months. "We wanted to make something entirely new. We wanted to look into how we could reinvent the browser for a new form factor," said Mozilla's Firefox UX lead Alex Limi.  Limi went on to declare Safari for iPad "a miserable experience" but acknowledged it is currently the best option available for tablet-based browsing.

Limi said Junior delivers a full-screen browsing experience that eliminates the conventional toolbar to offer a "magazine feel." The Junior UI is instead highlighted by two control buttons: A back arrow at the left of the screen and a plus symbol at the right. Touching the latter presents users with a list of recently accessed pages, an icon-heavy list of favorites/bookmarks and a search screen, each consuming about a third of the iPad screen. Mozilla said it is still finalizing additional buttons.

Limi admitted Mozilla has yet to make an impact on Apple's iOS platform, offering only Firefox Home, which is not a browser but does provide iPhone users access to their desktop history, bookmarks and open tabs. "There are a lot of reasons we should be on iOS even though we can't bring our rendering engine there," Limi said, explaining Junior is intended to extend the open-source software initiative's reach to "one of the biggest consumer platforms in the world." CNet reports Mozilla has not responded to a request for clarification on when Junior is expected to reach consumers.

Mozilla offers a mobile version of the Firefox desktop browser for smartphones and tablets running Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android operating system. Mozilla also is building its own web-based mobile OS, Boot to Gecko. Mozilla and operator partner Telefónica plan to begin selling Boot to Gecko devices by the end of 2012 or early in 2013, accompanied by the Mozilla Marketplace app storefront, which enables developers to create and distribute cross-platform applications optimized for any HTML5-enabled device, regardless of operating system.

For more:
- read this Verge article
- read this CNet article

Related articles:
Mozilla updates Firefox for Android with Adobe Flash support
Mozilla preps native UI for future versions of Firefox on Android
Mozilla, Telefonica target Brazil for Boot to Gecko smartphone launch
Mozilla partners with Telefónica for first Boot to Gecko smartphones
Mozilla Marketplace opens for HTML5 app submissions next week

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