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Apple Lets Firefox Ride Along on Safari

By Richard Adhikari MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Jul 16, 2010 10:23 AM PT

Apple has approved Firefox Home, a free app from the Mozilla Foundation for mobile devices running the iPhone operating system (iOS) such as the iPhone and iPad.

Apple Lets Firefox Ride Along on Safari

Firefox Home lets users sync and view bookmarks and open tabs and browser history between the iOS device and a desktop or notebook computer.

It's not a Mozilla-made browser, but rather an add-on to Apple's own Safari browser.

Fox on the Run

The Firefox Home app gives users access on their iPhones to their Firefox desktop histories, bookmarks and open tabs, the Mozilla Foundation said.

Browser data is securely synced from Firefox on the user's desktop to the cloud. Users can view the sites they want directly in Firefox Home, open them in Mobile Safari, or email them to friends.

Mobile workers for whom smartphones are an essential work tool will find Firefox Home particularly useful, Chris Hazelton, a research director at the 451 Group, told MacNewsWorld.

"Lots of people set up their bookmarks or browsers on a PC or Mac and organize them in folders," Hazelton said. "They often have hundreds of links, and these are increasingly mobile-friendly. As you have a phone that's increasingly similar to or as capable as your PC, you will want to use something like Firefox Home."

Getting to Know Firefox Home

Before users get Firefox Home, they will first have to install Firefox Sync, a free add-on for Firefox, on their desktops.

Firefox Sync lets users access their browser history, passwords and bookmarks, and open tabs across all their devices. Version 1.4.1 is now available. It works with Firefox versions 3.5 to 4.0b2pre.

Users will then have to restart Firefox and create an account with both a password and a secret phrase.

Next, users have to access the iTunes App Store on their iPhones and enter their Firefox Sync account information and their identification in order to download and install Firefox Home on their mobile devices.

Users will have to choose what information to sync. By default, Firefox Sync will sync everything. The Mozilla Foundation recommends this setting.

Keeping Data Safe

Firefox Sync, formerly known as "Weave Sync," leverages the cloud to store user data.

It encrypts all a user's data before sending it to its cloud servers.

For encryption, Sync employs the secret phrase users submit when creating an account with the add-on.

DIY Firefox Systems

Firefox Sync and Firefox Home use REST (representational state transfer) application programming interfaces developers can use for building their own applications.

REST is a style of software architecture for distributed hypermedia systems such as the World Wide Web.

The User API lets developers create accounts and perform authentication as well as other account-related actions.

The Sync API handles data storage and retrieval.

All the code, including that for the server, is open source, so developers can run their own servers if they want to, Mozilla said.

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