For the first time, developers for Mozilla's fledgling mobile operating system, Firefox OS, will be able to test their apps on a phone custom built with the platform in mind.
Mozilla unveiled two developer preview phones today, both designed by Spanish startup Geeksphone.
The Keon is the lower end model, with a 1 Ghz Qualcomm processor, and a 3.50-inch HVGA screen. The top tier Peak has a dual-core 1.2 Ghz processor, and a 4.30-inch qHD LCD display. Mozilla says both phones will be available for purchase from early February, but there are no details on pricing yet. (Update: Mozilla has changed its forecast to just February)
Previously, developers needed to use a Firefox OS simulator to test apps on the platform, or sideload Firefox OS onto Android phones like the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. The preview phones are designed to give developers better feedback on their apps, and encourage further development for the platform, says Mozilla.
"Developer preview phones will help make the mobile web more accessible to more people. Developers are critical to the web and to Mozilla’s mission to make the web accessible to everyone," says Mozilla.
Mozilla first revealed its ambitious plan to join the competitive mobile operating systems market in July last year. The OS continues the non-profit foundation's mission to advance open web standards, by using HTML5 for app development.
While HTML5 apps are supported on other systems, like iOS or Android, they usually suffer from performance issues and a lack of interactivity with the phone's hardware. Until recently, Facebook's apps were HTML5 based, and were the cause of many complaints from its users until the social network moved to native versions.
With Firefox OS, hardware acceleration is built into the system to enhance the performance of the HTML5 apps. Mozilla provides open APIs which allow the apps to connect to key functions of the phone including vibration, camera, and the dialer.
The Keon model
CPU Qualcomm Snapdragon S1 1Ghz
UMTS 2100/1900/900 (3G HSPA)
GSM 850/900/1800/1900 (2G EDGE)
Screen 3.5″ HVGA Multitouch
3 MP Camera
4GB ROM, 512 MB RAM
MicroSD, Wifi N, Light and proxmity Sensor, G-Sensor, GPS, MicroUSB
1580 mAh battery
Over the air updates
Unlocked, add your own SIM card
The Peak model
CPU Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 1.2Ghz x2.
UMTS 2100/1900/900 (3G HSPA).
GSM 850/900/1800/1900 (2G EDGE).
Screen 4.3″ qHD IPS Multitouch.
Camera 8 MP (back) + 2 MP (front).
4 GB (ROM) and 512 (RAM).
MicroSD, Wifi N, Light and proxmity Sensor, G-Sensor, GPS, MicroUSB, Flash (camera).
Battery 1800 mAh.