Mozilla goes mobile with Firefox Home iPhone app

Jul 21, 2010
Tech

I’m a devoted Firefox user on my MacBook Pro, and like many others, I’ve been long awaiting the release of a Firefox app for iPhone and iPod Touch. While the recently released Firefox Home app is far from perfect, if my choice is Firefox Home or nothing, I’ll take this free app. In fact, for […]

I’m a devoted Firefox user on my MacBook Pro, and like many others, I’ve been long awaiting the release of a Firefox app for iPhone and iPod Touch. While the recently released Firefox Home app is far from perfect, if my choice is Firefox Home or nothing, I’ll take this free app. In fact, for my needs, Firefox Home has the potential to replace Safari—a big statement in favor of an app that’s not even a full browser.

Firefox Home works through the Firefox Sync add-on and allows you to sync your Firefox history, bookmarks, passwords, preferences and open tabs. I chose not to sync passwords for security, but the choice is yours. To set up a Sync account, you’ll need to download the plug-in and create an account with a password and secret phrase, but the app will email you detailed instructions if you like. Once you’ve set up an account and authorized your iPhone or Touch to access it, your data will be imported.

Most of the sites I frequent are bookmarked in my desktop Firefox, so the sync feature lets me get to those sites much faster, as I never bothered to put them into Safari on my iPhone.  My bookmarks did not appear immediately, but that was partly because of launch-day traffic and partly because the auto sync occurs only every 10 to 15 minutes. There is a manual refresh function in the settings tab, as well as one that appears in your “Tools” menu on your desktop. I love that Firefox Home will display your open tabs—great for busy people on the go—but you’ll want to make sure that your device is actually synced before you leave the house if that’s your plan.

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The biggest complaint about Firefox Home is the fact that it’s not a complete browser. While that’s true, workaround to this is to use the app’s “Awesome Bar” to search your bookmarks or history for a little site called Google. That, coupled with your search history, makes it highly unlikely that there’s anywhere on the Internet you can’t reach. (Flash sites excluded, of course.) Yes, it’s an extra step in the searching process that Safari doesn’t require, but the app’s fast rendering makes it painless.

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