In his Beyond The Browser talk at Web 2.0 Expo in New York, Brendan Eich walked through what the Mozilla Foundation is up to now. Here’s my notes from his talk:
- Some History: In 1998, Netscape open-sourced their Web rendering engine. Then it took some time to develop a rewrite, which became Gecko & XML UI. In 2002, Mozilla 1 milestone was reached and in 2003 the Mozilla foundation was set up. In 2004, Mozilla founded the WHATWG with Apple and Opera to do HTML5. Firefox 1 was released in November.
- The new browser war is between the Web and new walled gardens of native networked apps.
- The cost of developing smartphones is high so companies need to lock customers into their app stores in order to make up costs.
- Proprietary stacks in native apps include the Web and are built like it. Many apps end up using HTML for markup.
- But a lot still can’t be done in Web browsers is device access: NFC, Vibration, USB Access, Bluetooth, Proximity Sensors, Light Sensors, Hardware Keys. Mozilla wants to change this. It’s a no-brainer to turn this on for the Web.
- In addition to convincing platforms to give Web browsers access to device APIs, a security model needs to be established. For example, asking people to use their current location. Aggressive permission models, however, won’t help users. We need a better way.
New Initiatives at Mozilla
- Mozilla is putting Firefox on Android phones & tablets –making it very fast to start up and browse the Web.
- BrowserID takes email and adds secure public keys to allow people to log in to sites without a password. This is the lynchpin for Open Web Apps.
- Open Web Apps: work in modern browsers and integrate with BrowserID. These applications can run on any device, and can be distributed through any store or directly by the developer.
- Boot to Gecko: want to place a thin layer on top of Android to provide access to native APIs and pursue the goal of building a complete, standalone operating system for the open web.
- Are we Mobile Yet? Is a site created by Mozilla to push Device API access.
- Focusing Mozilla community attention on mobile.