There has been lot of mobile wars going on in recent years. Today when we talk about Mobile OS, the top contenders that comes to mind are Android and iOS. Both are good operating systems and it’s matter of preference whose device you choose.
But I was never fascinated by devices of these both operating systems so I never bought Android or iOS device because my mobile usage limited. I use it only for calls, SMS, maps (with GPS), and rarely use camera (because I prefer taking photos with P&S or DSLR) and Bluetooth. Plus the most important thing which I look before buying a phone is power consumption (Stand-by and Talk time). I immediately reject phones with Stand-by less than 600hours and Talk time less than 6 hours because I hate phones consuming battery within a day.
It’s not a wise decision to buy a high-end phone which has lot of features which you never use. I have seen many users of high-end phones (like Galaxy S2/S3, Galaxy Note, iPhone 4/4s) who even don’t know what these devices are capable of. That’s my personal opinion and everyone has their own choice of buying devices according to their needs or style or some other reason.
This article is not about what are my mobile needs or how I purchase phones. It’s about Firefox OS (Boot to Gecko), the upcoming Mobile OS from Mozilla. Initially when I read news about Firefox OS, I thought it will be another ordinary OS like Android, iOS, Windows Phone, WebOS, BBOS or Meego which will be Linux based and will have some language to create native apps for it and will have battery timing that sucks, and its high-end phones will be expensive, and each version (like Android versions 2.3, 4.0, 4.1) will become obsolete after few years, blah blah blah… same boring old stuff.
Few days ago I watched a talk on Firefox OS and I found that it’s not what I was thinking about it. It’s a very unique and different idea which forced me to look deeper in this project. I explored Mozilla’s wiki for Firefox OS and decided to write an article explaining why this project seems interesting to me.
What Exactly is Firefox OS?
Firefox OS Architecture
You can divide Firefox OS in three parts. Gonk, Gecko, and Gaia as shown below:
Gonk is small tripped down Linux kernel designed to be very fast, lite and resource efficient. It also contains Hardware Abstraction Layer which provide friendly APIs to directly access hardware resources. But these APIs are not for developers. These APIs are used in Gecko (layer above Gonk). Final thing which it contains are the device drivers for the device on which it will run. In short you can say Gonk is a small Linux distribution on which Gecko is ported.
Enough with the technical details. Let’s see why these set of technologies is so cool and useful for end-user.
What’s Special for End-User?
We have looked Firefox OS from technical point of view. End-User don’t care what technologies Mozilla used to implement their OS. So in this section I am gonna explain why this architecture and selection of technologies is important and how it’s useful for the end-user and app developers.
Less Resource Hungry
As explained above Firefox OS is based on bare Linux kernel, and Gecko engine which execute apps. So it takes very less device resources. It can run smoothly even on 256MB of RAM.
As mentioned above it uses very less resources compared to Android, iOS, Windows Phone. This means it will consume less power and give long battery timing.
Lite and Fast
Never Gets Obsolete
No Porting Issue
Developers don’t need to port their apps from Android or iOS. They can simply create native app for Firefox OS from their web app using a simple JSON based manifest file. You can now start submitting apps to Mozilla Marketplace (which open soon later this year).
Mozilla is non-profit organization and they are not hungry like Google, Apple or Microsoft so they are creating a solution which will not only be affordable by everyone but also not get obsolete any sooner since your purchase of device.