An Introduction to Firefox OS

Firefox OS

Last week I weighed in with my thoughts on the ZTE Open‘s rather unremarkable hardware. The real story is, of course, Firefox OS — the brand-new mobile operating system that runs on it.

Firefox borrows heavily from both Android and iOS, making it instantly familiar and easy to use. To show you exactly what it looks like I reset my ZTE Open over the weekend and took a brunch of screen grabs from first boot onwards. One thing about grabbing screens: if you’re searching the web for how to do it pay no mind to this post — using adb and terminal commands will certainly work, but simply holding the power and home keys at the same time will save a screen directly to your gallery.

Anyway, here is Firefox OS!

The first few screens get you set up with the correct language, data and the proper date and time. The virtual keyboard works like iOS in that when you press a key a pop-up letter appears above your thumb. This is especially important when you’re dealing with a small 320 x 480 pixel screen.

Import Contacts

Instead of putting you at risk by having Facebook help itself to your address book  — as it is prone to do — Firefox just uses Facebook as your address book from the get-go.

Sucks if you’re not a Facebook user, though…

A reminder of what makes Firefox OS a little different, along with options to anonymously share usage data and get on Mozilla’s mailing list.

Now that your phone is set up, Firefox OS gives you a quick tutorial on how to use it.

Finally, the home screen. And yes, you can change the wallpaper if you want.

Like iOS and most Android launchers Firefox has an “app dock” at the bottom of the screen. If it looks there’s one too many apps there it’s probably on purpose; I’m pretty sure that this is Mozilla’s way of letting you know that the dock can span multiple screens.

Looks like I’ve some updates to install…

Note the very Android-esque pull-down notification bar.

Like the tutorial says, swipe to the right for your installed apps; swipe left for everything else.

If you were wondering, HERE Maps is Nokia’s mapping solution, the same one you can use on the web. And speaking of the web, nothing on that second screen is local to the device — meaning that you won’t even see it if you don’t have a data connection.


A quick peek at the Firefox app store — sorry, Marketplace. Everything I’ve seen there thus far is free.

Do Not Track

One more thing that sets Firefox OS apart — the option for “do not track” across the entire system. Curiously it’s not on by default, but I guess it reinforces that Firefox is all about choice.

I’ll dive in a little deeper in a future post. What do you think so far of this brand-new mobile OS?