Mozilla announces Junior, a browser for iPad

There's been a lot of speculation about what Mozilla might do when it comes to browsing on the iPad, but up until now their lips have been sealed on the subject. That changed at a recent presentation from Mozilla's Product Design Team, when they showed off Junior, a WebKit based browser the company is building 'from the ground up' for iPad.

Mozilla's Alex Limi called browsing on the iPad 'a miserable experience' when introducing Mozilla's novel take on tablet surfing, and Mozilla's approach looks like it could actually make it feel that way after you've given it a try.

Mozilla is calling their iOS browser Junior (despite using the Firefox logo, they're not calling it Firefox just yet), and it looks like a pretty impressive, clutter free experience. Ergonomics generally isn't something that browser makers have to worry about, but that changes with tablets; to make sure everything is comfortable. In the planning stage, they even considered trying to do an entirely gesture based browser, but decided that that could be more of a barrier than a feature.

Ultimately, the team decided to move the back and a '+' button down towards the bottom of the iPad, placing them on the left and right sides of the screen. Perfect, it just so happens, for navigating with your thumbs.

The + button is more than just a tabs button, though. Co-designer Trond Werner Hansen says that the button will open a new screen "that lets you do the three vital things when you want to go someplace new." Those three things, of course, a recent pages bar (which consists of visual screenshots of the pages, a bit like the approach to tabs found in older versions of iOS), an icon based bookmarks page, and a unified search/URL bar at the bottom of the screen, which looks a bit like Microsoft's approach in the Metro version of IE10.

Junior is still very much a work in progress - so much so that the team hasn't decided what all of the buttons will do. The back and + button can both be expanded to reveal six functions, but they haven't reached a final decision on what those functions will be. Still, it's a really original approach to navigation, and it looks like it could be the perfect fit for tablets.

Another cool feature set to come with Junior is accounts, which does basically what you'd expect. Using a fairly traditional interface, you can cycle though a number of different accounts, which can be password protected. Each of the accounts can keep their own bookmarks and security settings, which makes it easy for a family or work group to share an iPad.

There's no release date for Junior just yet, but we really can't wait to hear more about it. It looks like it just might redefine the whole browsing experience on tablets, if it turns out to be as intuitive as the demos would have us believe. Be sure to check out the demo above to see Junior in action.

Via: TUAW

Sources: Mozilla | The Verge

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27 Comments

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wotsit said,
Epic fail by Microsoft/IE team - late to the party as always.

... have you even read the article, or even looked at the title?

That's a bad idea, from a "political" point of view.
What will they say against IE10 Metro to promote Firefox Metro, now that they're doing exactly what IE10 does on the iPad?

I'm really interested in seeing what Mozilla has to offer but I refuse to sit through 20 minutes of people who have absolutely no idea of how to give a presentation.

At first glance, this seems more or less like the Metro IE10, just without toolbars that slide in and with the tab previews and the "speed dial" (using Opera lingo) being in one page. Speaking of Opera, they've managed to make a rough approximation of site logos and it sometimes work. Catering for Junior's start page would be another thing for webmasters to insert into webpage code, in addition to an optional homepage icon for iOS.

Otherwise, some decent ideas here. But besides that, Safari on the iPad isn't that "miserable." The desktop browser metaphor is familiar to many computer users toting tablets.

yep same as Neo. And personally, I am fully satisfied with Safari on both my MBP and ipad3. With bookmark synced between the devices. I've tried all the other third party browser, and god there are plenty. I finally spent way too much money on trying these to realize Safari fits my needs

Mozilla lost me two minutes into the video. What a terrible way to present a new product. It's just too painful to watch.

Also, why does the browser itself needs to be a "fun" experience? In my opinion Safari on both the iPad and Mac does a pretty good job at showing content, which is what it's all about.

.Neo said,
Mozilla lost me two minutes into the video. What a terrible way to present a new product. It's just too painful to watch.
This wasn't really a public presentation, it was a meeting at Mozilla that the public attended and recorded.. so I give him a pass..

If my presentations at meetings were like that I would probably have been fired by now. Or at the very least not allowed to do the presentations anymore. His story is incoherent, not to the point and frankly just a pain to hear.

Rudy said,
I thought Apple said they wouldn't approve a browser not using Webkit?

Better read article, it will be gonna based on Webkit.

theyarecomingforyou said,
Watch the video. This will be WebKit based, which is probably why Mozilla is using a different product name to avoid confusion.
Can't watch the video at work...but if it will use webkit then I see no issues

Rudy said,
I thought Apple said they wouldn't approve a browser not using Webkit?
Apple won't allow 3rd party browser engines, or JS engines on iOS, it would violate their rules about no execution of remote code by an app, as such all browsers need to use the already present webkit and js engine. It has it's pro's and cons, but it is what it is.

Rudy said,
Can't watch the video at work...but if it will use webkit then I see no issues

If you can comment on Neowin at work, you can read the second sentence of the article.

rfirth said,

If you can comment on Neowin at work, you can read the second sentence of the article.


Not true. My work filters out sentences 2, 5, and 42.

theyarecomingforyou said,
Watch the video. This will be WebKit based, which is probably why Mozilla is using a different product name to avoid confusion.

wonder why they (and Google) are bitching about Windows RT then?

Ryoken said,
Apple won't allow 3rd party browser engines, or JS engines on iOS, it would violate their rules about no execution of remote code by an app, as such all browsers need to use the already present webkit and js engine. It has it's pro's and cons, but it is what it is.

funny that mozilla doesnt cry and whine because of this, they just make a different browser.
Windows RT does it, and its the end of the world!

4mins into the video and this ginger bloke is making it so painful to watch, he really shouldn't do demonstrations or should at least prepare what hes going to say beforehand.

I do like the look of it so far though

Shikaka said,
4mins into the video and this ginger bloke is making it so painful to watch, he really shouldn't do demonstrations or should at least prepare what hes going to say beforehand.

I do like the look of it so far though

"You wanna do this, Tom? Is this thing even on?"

Neato. Hope it's faster than it is on Android. Firefox seems really slow to open on Android.

Edited by warwagon, Jun 18 2012, 5:34pm :

warwagon said,
Neato. Hope it's faster than it is on Android. Firefox seems really slow to open on Android.

Well, since it's WebKit, it shouldn't have much to do with Firefox on Android. Totally different animal