Mozilla Submits Firefox Home iPhone App. Apple Should Approve It

Earlier this afternoon, Mozilla submitted what would be its first iPhone application to the App Store. No, it’s not Firefox — well, not exactly.

Mozilla has submitted an app called Firefox Home for approval. While it’s not the native Firefox web browser, it is an app that lets you easily move your Firefox browsing history, bookmarks, and open tabs to the iPhone. You can then either open these within the app or with mobile Safari.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: no way Apple accepts a Firefox app. But actually, I’m pretty sure they will.

Again, this app is not a new web browser, it’s just a tool for moving your data from your desktop to the phone. The browser that is built-in to the app is a WebKit-based one built with the tools Apple includes in the SDK. On its FAQ page, Mozilla says the following about Firefox for the iPhone:

Does this mean Firefox will be available on the iPhone?
No. We do not have plans to ship the Firefox browser for the iPhone. Due to constraints with the OS environment and distribution, we cannot provide users Firefox for the iPhone.

Apple did allow Opera to put its browser on the iPhone to the surprise of some. But there’s some talk that the only reason Apple did that as a way to quiet critics — because they knew the app wasn’t that great. After an initial surge in downloads, you don’t hear too much about it anymore. Mozilla, which is the world second most popular browser (well ahead of Safari), might be a different story. And Mozilla apparently knows it.

This app also isn’t Firefox Sync. Sync is a two way syncing of information between Firefox browsers on different machines. Firefox Home is a one-way push to the iPhone. “We only sync changes since the last update for bookmarks and open tabs. And history is limited to about 2000 items. And there is no auto-sync. The median disk space used by Sync users is about 2-3 MB total for all of their Sync data and Home only has a subset of that.,” Mozilla says.

Mozilla’s Asa Dotzler seems worried that Apple may not approve the app. But as long as it’s not using any undocumented APIs, I can’t see a reason why Apple would reject it — at least not without a lot of outrage, once again. And the app looks good, it should be very useful to users of Firefox.

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