updated 02:00 pm EST, Sun February 23, 2014
Reference phone, tablets and developer tools at heart of announcement
Firefox OS is expanding rapidly, according to claims made at Mobile World Congress today. Mozilla, the company behind the widely-used web browser, outlined some of the finer points of the expansion of the separate Firefox OS in devices reaching out globally -- including a move into new high- and low-end consumer devices, new reference devices and tools for developers to port applications.
The mobile OS will now be available on more devices from Alcatel OneTouch, Huawei, LG and ZTE. In addition to the previously-leaked ZTE Open C, the company will use the HTML 5 operating system to power the Open II. New devices from Alcatel OneTouch will see new phone models in the Fire line with the Fire C, Fire E, Fire S and a Fire 7 tablet. All of the devices from Alcatel OneTouch and ZTE will feature a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor.
For a lower-end option, Spreadtrum has developed a reference design for WCMDA and EDGE networks specifically geared towards use with Firefox OS. The SC6821 chipset will be used for an entry-level smartphone said to be priced at $25 -- bringing the cost of smartphones down to a new industry low, according to the company.
The SC6821 makes use of a low-memory configuration with high integration that reduces the materials required to produce a smartphone, the company says. The new chipset in combination with the Firefox OS "has the potential to dramatically extend the reach of smartphones and the web globally," says Dr. Li Gong, Senior Vice President of Mobile Devices and President of Asia Operations for Mozilla.
A new reference phone, dubbed the Firefox OS Flame, was announced for developers as well. The new phone will allow companies to conduct hardware and other environment tests on a physical device. The Flame features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 1.2 GHz dual-core processor, 4.5-inch screen, 8GB of storage, 256MB to 1GB of RAM that can be adjusted by the developers, a 3G radio, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, NFC, front and rear cameras, support for dual SIMs and an 1,800mAh battery. Developers and early adopters will be given the ability to test night releases of the OS and contribute to development.
Two new reference tablets from Foxconn and VIA are being developed on the tablet contribution program for the OS as well. The InFocus from Foxconn features a 10-inch screen, 16GB of storage, 2GB of RAM, GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a 7,000mAh battery and front and rear cameras, all powered by an A31 quad-core 1.5 GHz processor. The VIA Vixen has a 1.2 GHz dual-core Cortex A9 with 1GB of RAM, 8GB of storage, Wi-Fi and front and back cameras behind a seven-inch screen. Both tablets are expected to be used to help accelerate tablet builds for Firefox OS.
Applications will be easier to port to Firefox OS through the use of the PhoneGap integration, which will allow "developers to port their existing apps to Firefox OS in a matter of hours," says Mozilla. New developer tools, including App Manager, were launched at Mobile World Congress to allow easier customization.