updated 02:45 am EDT, Mon June 18, 2012
New browser built from ground up for touchscreens
Mozilla is working to re-imagine the web browser for tablet interfaces, with the apparent aim of grabbing a significant share of the iPad browsing market. The company has been showing off "Junior," the code-name for a prototype tablet browser that developers have been crafting for the past several months. As The Verge detailed, Junior would represent Mozilla's first big step into the iOS sector, where the company currently has only an iPhone-optimized companion app that syncs tabs from a desktop but relies on Safari for actual browsing functionality.
In crafting Junior, Mozilla has eschewed most of the standard browser conventions that have survived the leap from desktop machines to mobile devices. Instead of a menu bar with location and navigation tools, the fresh approach presents a full-screen experience in which users access browser functions through two buttons. One button, a black arrow, takes users back a page, while the other opens a more detailed interface that allows users to search, view bookmarks, or enter a new URL.
The new browser foregoes tabs, but keeps other features such as reload, forward, and print. As the browser is still very much in the prototype phase, Mozilla may yet find a way to implement tabbed browsing, though that remains to be seen. Mozilla also plans to add options for private browsing and user profiles, which would require a password in order to log back into an account.
Should Mozilla push on with its foray into the iOS browser space, it may find the field a bit more crowded than it currently is. Some observers expect that Google, too, will be putting out a browser for iOS in the coming months. The entry of multiple major players into the browser space of the dominant operating system in the tablet sector is said by some to be all that is needed to spark another round of browser wars like those seen in the mid to late '90s.