Firefox OS is the free and open source mobile operating system from Mozilla. The OS is relatively new on the smartphone scene. I have had the ZTE Open running this OS with me for a few days now and have had the opportunity to size up Firefox OS. How does it fare against the competition in terms of capabilities?
Surprisingly, it looks like the folks at Mozilla did their homework for the most part. Here are key features that the average smartphone user already uses on other platforms and are already available in Firefox OS:
- 3G/HSPA support
- USB mass storage
- Removable memory card support
- Multitasking and task management
- Bluetooth File transfer
- Stereo FM
- GPS Support
- Internet Sharing / WiFi Hotspot
- USB tethering
- Social integration in menu
- Online Moarketplace
- App update notification
- Pull-down menu
Firefox Apps menu:
The only niggle with the OS that I ran into is a limitation with internal storage. Photos, videos and music are stored on SD card. If you don’t have an SD card in the phone, you cannot download or receive files (e.g. via Bluetooth). Besides this, as far as I can see, Firefos OS ticks almost all the boxes in terms of features to expect from a modern day smartphone OS. One hopes that the restrictions on internal memory will be removed as soon as possible.
The Firefox OS user interface is largely reminiscent of Android’s. You swipe horizontally through three pages on the desktop. The main page is the middle one, so you swipe swipe to the left to access installed apps, and swipe to the right to access Marketplace apps. Yes; it has a platform store called Marketplace. Users can download and install apps from there. The OS also has automatic notifications for available app updates.
Here is what the pulldown menu looks like:
Firefox OS Marketplace:
The UI also features a pull-down menu that provides quick toggles/shortcuts to WiFi, network data, Bluetooth, Airplane Mode, and Settings. I also dis[plays your data usage, and serves as a notification area for updates and all. There is a sense in which the UI feels like what Symbian could have been if development had not been stopped. Firefox OS certainly feels pretty matured for a new OS in the field.
ZTE Open Review
My review f the ZTE Open is already in draft. I hope to complete it soon, so hang around.