July 26, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka
Mozilla is really happy for Android, but not happy enough to sit and do nothing other than build Firefox for Android. With its new Boot to Gecko (B2G) project, Mozilla will take an Android foundation and build a web-oriented operating system that uses Gecko, the Firefox HTML5 rendering engine.
Do not confuse this to be an Android flavor like HTC Sense or Motorola Motoblur. Rather than make cosmetic and feature changes, B2G will be a major overhaul using web technologies and “as little of Android as possible,” reports Ars Technica. It will support Android Java native programming, but Mozilla aims to limit Android’s overall influence so it can create something different.
Why use Android at all? Well, as much as Mozilla champions HTML5 – and does some amazing things with it, might I add – the company recognizes that web technology is not yet at the point in which it can compete feature-for-feature with Android, iOS, et al. However, having developers pick and choose which platforms to support and how they go about it is not ideal. Mozilla wants to use B2G as a way to establish standards for webapp development. The project will serve as a prototype/promotional tool to encourage more web-based development rather than the fragmented model of developing for one OS and then changing gears to support another.
Quick commercial break, here’s a reminder that there’s an xkcd comic for every tech occasion
Mozilla will make B2G an open-source project. And unlike Android, it will be fully-open because developers can download code as its developed and contribute their own talents. Interested parties can track what’s going on at the B2G GitHub or learn more at the B2G wiki.
And just for the sake of nostalgia, here’s a look back at the Seabird concept shown off last September. This is not an indication of what to expect from B2G because the UI will be completely different and the features will be an Android derivative rather than an Android flavor. However, it’s a good way to get a sense of what Mozilla may have in mind for the future of B2G.